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Men: How Alex Garland's New Movie Will Terrify UsheroImage

Men: How Alex Garland's New Movie Will Terrify Us

4/29/2022 • 4 min read

Alex Garland is ready to make you feel weird and scared. The English novelist, screenwriter and director has a unique career. At one point, Garland was best known for his 1996 debut novel, “The Beach.” The book became a global youth culture hit, and then became a Leonardo DiCaprio movie (also written by Garland) while Leo was still riding high on the TITANIC wave.

Now, however, Garland is best known for his work as a director. His two feature films, EX MACHINA and ANNIHILATION, are striking and unsettling. They're basically sci-fi nightmares that delve deep into the questions of identity and mortality that some of us would rather not confront.

Now Garland returns with MEN. In his new movie, Jessie Buckley stars as a grieving woman who retreats to a small home in English countryside. The home’s caretaker, played by Rory Kinnear, seems a little bit unusual… And then it seems that every other man in the village is also played by Rory Kinnear. What exactly is going on?! We don't know, but everything we've seen from MEN so far — and everything we know about Alex Garland — tells us to prepare to be terrified.

It's a Man's Man's Man's World

 

James Brown sang the song but now Garland makes it real in a disturbing way. As Jessie Buckley's character is confronted by one man after another who all seem to be the same man, does she even realize? There's a suggestion that the movie is, in some ways, rooted deep in her character's mind.

In other words, MEN looks like a nightmare. Not in the way that miles-long snarl of traffic looks like a nightmare. We mean more of a literal, actual dream state. One thing we know about Garland's movies is that he is reluctant to explain everything. With MEN, expect that approach to be taken further than ever before. And so, as in a dream that haunts you for days, MEN is likely to offer disturbing visions without giving the comforting closure of an explanation to make it all seem OK./p>

The Real, the Unreal, and the Ancient

Rory Kinnear in MEN

In fact, the first reviews of MEN highlight the unreality of the movie. But they also specify that Garland delivers some shocks and visions that are all too realistically gruesome. We're ready to be scared, yes, but descriptions of MEN mentioning that it "makes a giddy swerve towards Giger-esque body horror" have our inner old-school horror fan ready to demand opening day tickets right now.

Oh, and for anyone who is uncomfortable with the idea of "men," generally speaking as the villains of a horror movie… well, that's probably part of the idea. Horror movies like to provoke, and MEN is certainly a horror movie. But there's an old spirit at work on the characters in this movie, and "men" is in part meant to evoke mankind as a whole. The filmmaker who threatened humanity with advanced artificial intelligence in EX MACHINA and confronted us with a potentially extra-terrestrial presence in ANNIHILATION isn't backing down — he's escalating.

 

Men opens on May 20.

 

All images courtesy of A24.

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