July 22, 2024

MEN (2022) – A bizarre arthouse horror that defies definition

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Rating: ⭐⭐⭐

This is an odd one. But strange in a good way. Harper, a recently widowed young woman, rents an old English countryside home for a few days to help her get over a traumatic event that led to her husband’s death. The peace and quiet, as well as the natural beauty surrounding the house, appear to be just what she needs. But, of course, not everything is as it appears, and strange things begin to occur that become increasingly bizarre.

By the end of the film, we’re probably just as exhausted and perplexed as Harper about what’s going on. The film provides no explanations either. One recurring theme is that all of the men Harper meets appear to be the same. Whether it’s the seemingly well-meaning owner, Geoffrey, or the policeman, or the naked intruder, or the vicar, all of whom were superbly played by Rory Kinnear. We, the audience, can clearly see this, but Harper cannot. This actually hints at what the filmmakers are attempting to portray. With an open-ended conclusion, the viewer is left to piece together what they’ve seen and come up with their own explanation. Some may find this extremely frustrating, and as a result, I would say that this is not a film for the masses. The entire story is best viewed as a metaphor of our main character Harper’s mental state.

Men is written and directed by Alex Garland who demonstrates a keen eye for details. He is also very creative with the camera work. The walks through the countryside for example, were beautifully photographed using unusual angles while at the same time, giving us a sense of actually being there. In fact, these simpler and quieter moments actually stand out more in the movie. Alex’s previous works have been more conventional science fiction stuff such as Ex Machina and Annihilation. Harper is played superbly by Jessie Buckley. She was last seen in “I’m Thinking Of Ending Things,” a similar arthouse-ish mind-fxxx. This time, however, there is an element of horror thrown into the mix. Finally, there is English actor Rory Kinnear playing the various male characters that Harper meets. He manages to instill individuality in each of his characters, and I, for one, had initially no idea he was playing them all. In some ways, he embodies the film’s title, MEN.

Men, as I previously stated, is not a film for everyone. You must keep an open mind and be willing to accept a conclusion that does not neatly tie up all the loose ends. Much of this is up to you to interpret. For those who dare to venture, I say “Enjoy …”.

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