Men is a 2022 British folk horror[4] film written and directed by Alex Garland. It stars Jessie Buckley as a widowed woman who travels on holiday to a countryside village but becomes disturbed and tormented by the strange men in the village, all portrayed by Rory Kinnear. The film was released in the United States on 20 May 2022 by A24 and in the United Kingdom on 1 June 2022 by Entertainment Film Distributors. It received generally positive reviews, though its narrative approach received some criticism.

US theatrical release poster
Directed byAlex Garland
Written byAlex Garland
Produced by
CinematographyRob Hardy
Edited byJake Roberts
Music by
Distributed byEntertainment Film Distributors
Release dates
  • 20 May 2022 (2022-05-20) (United States)
  • 1 June 2022 (2022-06-01) (United Kingdom)
Running time
100 minutes[1]
CountryUnited Kingdom[2]
Box office$11.2 million[3]

Plot edit

Following the apparent suicide of her husband James, Harper Marlowe decides to spend a holiday alone in the Herefordshire village of Cotson. Flashbacks reveal that Harper, tired of James's emotional abuse and manipulation, intended to divorce him, leading James to threaten her with his suicide. After James punched Harper in the face, he immediately attempted to apologise, but Harper angrily locked him out of the flat. She then witnessed him fall from an upstairs balcony to his death, being partially impaled by a fence.

Upon arriving at the country house she is renting, Harper is greeted by its eccentric but well-meaning owner, Geoffrey, who gives her a tour of the house. Harper later goes for a walk in the nearby woods and comes across a disused railway tunnel. At the other end, a human figure begins screaming and running towards her. Frightened, Harper runs back through the forest until she reaches an open field. She turns back to photograph the landscape on her phone and notices a naked man standing in the distance, watching her.

The next day, during a video call with her friend Riley, Harper spots the same naked man in the front garden, his face covered with bloody scratches, further disturbing her. Realising that the front door is slightly open, Harper quickly shuts and locks it, but the naked man sticks his hand through the letter box. Harper calls the police and the man is arrested, with one of the arresting officers resembling Geoffrey.

Harper visits a church, where images of the Green Man and Sheela na gig are carved on a font. Outside, she meets a young boy and a vicar who both bear a likeness to Geoffrey. After the boy leaves, Harper discusses James's death with the vicar, who suggests that she is partially responsible for James's death because she did not allow him to apologise. An enraged Harper leaves and later goes to a local pub, where she meets Geoffrey again. The few patrons and the bartender all bear Geoffrey's appearance. His policeman lookalike arrives shortly afterwards, informing Harper that the naked man has been released in the absence of any legal ground to keep him detained, to her chagrin.

Distressed by the recent events, Harper contacts Riley, who offers to drive to the village in the morning to accompany Harper for the rest of her holiday. As Harper attempts to text Riley the address, her mobile phone's service is repeatedly interrupted. She sees the policeman outside, but as the lights flicker, he disappears. One of the pub's patrons then appears and chases Harper, who retreats into the house. As she arms herself with a knife, a window breaks in the kitchen. Geoffrey arrives and finds that the window broke due to a crow, which he then euthanises by breaking its neck.

As Geoffrey goes into the garden, the lights flicker again and the naked man emerges, chasing Harper back into the house. When he reaches through the letter box and grabs Harper's hand, she stabs him through the arm. He pulls his arm out, the stuck knife ripping his arm in an extreme injury resembling the one James sustained during his fall. Both the boy and the vicar appear inside the house in turn, each of them now similarly injured. When the vicar attempts to rape Harper, she stabs him in the stomach and escapes the house.

While attempting to drive away, Harper accidentally runs over Geoffrey. He aggressively pulls Harper out of her car, takes control of it and chases her before crashing into a stone wall. The naked man, now in full Green Man form, approaches Harper, his ankle now severely broken and matching another injury on James's corpse. The naked man gives birth to the young boy, who in turn gives birth to the vicar, then Geoffrey, and finally James, heavily mutilating their bodies. Both Harper and James sit on a sofa inside the house. When Harper asks him what he wants from her, James responds that he wants her love. Riley—who is pregnant—arrives at the house in the morning. She follows a blood trail and finds Harper, who smiles when she sees her.

Cast edit

Jessie Buckley (left) stars as a terrorised widow. The men she encounters while on holiday are all played by Rory Kinnear (right).
  • Jessie Buckley as Harper Marlowe, a woman who goes on holiday after a tragic incident
  • Rory Kinnear as Geoffrey, the owner of the holiday house Harper rents. Kinnear also portrays the numerous "men" in the village that Harper visits (such as the naked man, the vicar, the pub owner, the police officer, Samuel's face and the two pub patrons).
    • Zak Rothera-Oxley as the body of Samuel, standing in for Kinnear
  • Paapa Essiedu as James Marlowe, Harper's late husband
  • Gayle Rankin as Riley, Harper's friend who speaks to her over the phone
  • Sarah Twomey as Frieda, a friendly police officer
  • Sonoya Mizuno as police operator (voice only)

Production edit

On 6 January 2021, it was announced that Alex Garland would write and direct a film for A24, his second following Ex Machina, with Jessie Buckley and Rory Kinnear in talks to star.[5] Regarding additional casting, The Sunday Times reported Paapa Essiedu rehearsing with Buckley and Kinnear.[6]

Principal photography began on 19 March 2021 and was expected to conclude on 19 May, in the United Kingdom, specifically St Katharine Docks, London, and parts of Gloucestershire, including Withington, standing in for Cotson; and a tunnel in the Forest of Dean.[7][8][9] On 22 May 2021, cinematographer Rob Hardy said filming had wrapped.[10]

Release edit

Men was released in the United States on 20 May 2022 by A24[3] and in the United Kingdom on 1 June[2] by Entertainment Film Distributors.[11][12] It screened at the Cannes Film Festival in the Directors' Fortnight section on 22 May 2022.[1][13] It was also selected as opening film at 26th Bucheon International Fantastic Film Festival to be screened on 7 July 2022.[14] It was released on VOD by Lionsgate Home Entertainment on 19 July 2022.[2]

Reception edit

Box office edit

Men grossed $7.6 million in the United States and Canada, and $3.6 million in other territories for a worldwide total of $11.2 million,[3] plus $436,094 with home video sales.[2] In North America, the film was released alongside Downton Abbey: A New Era in 2,212 theaters. It made $3.3 million in its opening weekend,[15] finishing fifth at the box office.[16] It then earned $1.2 million in its second weekend, finishing ninth,[17] before dropping out of the box office top ten in its third weekend.[18]

Critical response edit

On the review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, 69% of 266 critics' reviews are positive, with an average rating of 6.60/10. The website's consensus reads: "If its narrative and thematic reach sometimes exceeds its grasp, magnetic performances from a stellar cast help Men make the most of its horror provocations."[19] Metacritic, which uses a weighted average, assigned the film a score of 65 out of 100, based on 55 critics, indicating "generally favorable" reviews.[20] Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "D+" on an A+ to F scale, while PostTrak reported 52% of audience members gave it a positive score, with 30% saying they would definitely recommend it.[16]

Mark Kermode of The Observer gave the film 3/5 stars, calling it "a playfully twisted affair – not quite as profound as it seems to think, perhaps, but boasting enough squishy metaphorical slime to ensure that its musings upon textbook male characteristics are rarely dull, and sometimes deliciously disgusting."[21] Peter Bradshaw of The Guardian also gave it 3/5 stars, calling it "an unsubtle and schematic but very well-acted Brit folk-horror pastiche".[22] Christy Lemire of gave it 3/4 stars, calling it "a visceral experience" and adding: "it reinforces Garland's singular prowess as a craftsman of indelible visuals and gripping mood."[23] David Rooney of The Hollywood Reporter wrote: "Riveting performances from Jessie Buckley and a truly chameleonic Rory Kinnear make this A24 conversation-starter an unconventional genre standout."[24] A few critics have placed the emphasis on toxic masculinity,[21][25][26][27] so much so that Richard Roeper of Chicago Sun-Times argued that "at times it feels as if Harper is trapped in a maze like she's in The Shining."[28]

Kevin Maher of The Times gave it 2/5 stars, writing: "It culminates in a protracted, effects-filled birthing sequence that manages, after 90 minutes of man-hating, to be aggressively misogynistic."[29] Clarisse Loughrey of The Independent also gave it 2/5 stars, writing: "It suggests that all a male filmmaker needs to do to earn his feminist credentials is to show us men doing bad things."[30] K. Austin Collins of Rolling Stone wrote: "Too much is spent reiterating certain gore-ish thrills and slick political points that really don't benefit from the added scrutiny encouraged by repetition; even the grand, ecstatic, pathetic feat of the movie's climax fizzles rather than simmers."[31] Armond White of National Review wrote: "Despite its hallucinatory finale, Men is not really an examination of spousal guilt or women's fearful psychology... Plus, it's too absurd to substantiate the media's fascination with 'toxic masculinity.'"[32]

Jonathan Rosenbaum for the La International Cinéfila Poll placed the film on his "Best Films of 2022" list.[33]

Accolades edit

Award Date of ceremony Category Recipient(s) Result Ref.
British Independent Film Awards 4 December 2022 Best Joint Lead Performance Jessie Buckley and Rory Kinnear Nominated [34]
Cinematography Rob Hardy Nominated
Best Effects David Simpson Won
Best Original Music Ben Salisbury, Geoff Barrow Nominated
Best Sound Glenn Freemantle, Ben Barker, Gillian Dodders, Howard Bargoff, Mitch Low Nominated
St. Louis Gateway Film Critics Association 18 December 2022 Best Horror Film Men Nominated [36]
Critics' Choice Super Awards 16 March 2023 Best Actress in a Horror Movie Jessie Buckley Nominated [37][38]
Best Actor in a Horror Movie Rory Kinnear Nominated

References edit

  1. ^ a b "Men - Quinzaine des cinéastes". Directors Fortnight. Archived from the original on 13 January 2023. Retrieved 4 May 2022.
  2. ^ a b c d "Men (2022) – Financial Information". The Numbers. Nash Information Services, LLC. Retrieved 14 January 2023.
  3. ^ a b c "Men (2022)". Box Office Mojo. IMDb. Retrieved 21 June 2022.
  4. ^ Travis, Ben. "Interview: 28 Days Later Actually Is A Zombie Movie, According To Alex Garland". Empire. Archived from the original on 23 April 2022. Retrieved 25 April 2022.
  5. ^ Jackson, Angelique (6 January 2021). "Alex Garland Sets New Film 'Men' at A24, Jessie Buckley Tapped to Star". Variety. Archived from the original on 6 January 2021. Retrieved 14 April 2021.
  6. ^ Wilson, Robert (5 June 2021). "The best of British TV: the Bafta 2021 nominees and breakout stars who made lockdown bearable". The Sunday Times. Archived from the original on 13 February 2022. Retrieved 6 June 2021.
  7. ^ "Film and TV Projects Going Into Production – Men". Variety Insight. Archived from the original on 14 April 2021. Retrieved 14 April 2021.
  8. ^ Franklin, Garth (4 April 2021). "Alex Garland's "Men" Begins Filming". Dark Horizons. Archived from the original on 16 March 2022. Retrieved 14 April 2021.
  9. ^ Hardy, Rob [@rdhardy] (1 April 2021). "... the horror". Retrieved 14 April 2021 – via Instagram.
  10. ^ Hardy, Rob [@rdhardy] (22 May 2021). "MEN has wrapped. Thank you Alex Garland, Jessie Buckley, Rory Kinnear, and all of our stellar cast members as well as every single crew member who worked tirelessly through this storm of a movie.... prepare for something truly extraordinary, and reassuringly weird". Retrieved 22 May 2021 – via Instagram.
  11. ^ Chapman, Wilson (9 February 2022). "Director Alex Garland Debuts Trailer for A24 Horror Movie 'Men,' Starring Jessie Buckley". Variety. Archived from the original on 9 February 2022. Retrieved 17 February 2022.
  12. ^ Brew, Simon (16 March 2022). "Alex Garland's Men gets a UK release date". Film Stories. Archived from the original on 22 May 2022. Retrieved 4 May 2022.
  13. ^ Grater, Tom (19 April 2022). "Cannes Directors' Fortnight 2022 Lineup Unveiled: Alex Garland, Mia Hansen-Løve, Alice Winocour On List". Deadline Hollywood. Archived from the original on 25 April 2022. Retrieved 19 April 2022.
  14. ^ "26th Bucheon International Fantastic Film Festival: Opening film". Bucheon International Fantastic Film Festival. 14 June 2022. Archived from the original on 2 August 2022. Retrieved 14 June 2022.
  15. ^ "Domestic 2022 Weekend 20". Box Office Mojo. Archived from the original on 24 May 2022. Retrieved 25 May 2022.
  16. ^ a b D'Alessandro, Anthony (21 May 2022). "Though Dr. Strange 2 Prevails, Downton Abbey: A New Era Pulls In Older Audiences With $18M+ Opening – Saturday AM Box Office". Deadline Hollywood. Archived from the original on 22 May 2022. Retrieved 21 May 2022.
  17. ^ "Domestic 2022 Weekend 21". Box Office Mojo. Archived from the original on 1 June 2022. Retrieved 4 June 2022.
  18. ^ "Domestic 2022 Weekend 22". Box Office Mojo. Archived from the original on 7 June 2022. Retrieved 7 June 2022.
  19. ^ "Men". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved 31 May 2022.  
  20. ^ "Men". Metacritic. Fandom, Inc. Retrieved 31 May 2022.
  21. ^ a b Kermode, Mark (5 June 2022). "Men review – Alex Garland's rural retreat into toxic masculinity". The Observer. Archived from the original on 6 June 2022. Retrieved 6 June 2022.
  22. ^ Bradshaw, Peter (9 May 2022). "Men review – Alex Garland unleashes multiple Rory Kinnears in wacky folk-horror". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 5 June 2022. Retrieved 6 June 2022.
  23. ^ Lemire, Christy. "Men movie review & film summary (2022) | Roger Ebert". Archived from the original on 6 June 2022. Retrieved 6 June 2022.
  24. ^ Rooney, David (9 May 2022). "Jessie Buckley in Alex Garland's 'Men': Film Review". The Hollywood Reporter. Archived from the original on 6 June 2022. Retrieved 6 June 2022.
  25. ^ Travers, Peter (27 May 2022). "'Men' review: Jessie Buckley is an actress of extraordinary gifts". ABC News. Archived from the original on 27 May 2022. Retrieved 6 June 2022.
  26. ^ Rottenberg, Josh (20 May 2022). "Don't expect Alex Garland to explain what's happening in 'Men.' But here are a few hints". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on 14 January 2023. Retrieved 14 January 2023.
  27. ^ Ehrlich, David (9 May 2022). "'Men' Review: Alex Garland's Nightmarish Horror Movie Puts a Surreal New Spin on Toxic Masculinity". IndieWire. Archived from the original on 14 January 2023. Retrieved 14 January 2023.
  28. ^ Roeper, Richard (19 May 2022). "'Men': There's more than one message in horror film's disturbing, inventive imagery". Chicago Sun-Times. Archived from the original on 14 January 2023. Retrieved 14 January 2023.
  29. ^ Maher, Kevin (3 June 2022). "Men review — an underwhelming horror movie that veers from male toxicity to misogyny". The Times. ISSN 0140-0460. Archived from the original on 4 June 2022. Retrieved 6 June 2022.
  30. ^ Loughrey, Clarisse (2 June 2022). "Pseudo-feminist horror film Men offers little beyond metaphors – review". The Independent. Archived from the original on 6 June 2022. Retrieved 6 June 2022.
  31. ^ Collins, K. Austin (20 May 2022). "'Men' Reminds Us Men Are Awful, While Kind of Forgetting About Women". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on 6 June 2022. Retrieved 6 June 2022.
  32. ^ White, Armond (20 May 2022). "In Men, the Kavanaugh–Blasey Ford Nightmare Returns". National Review. Archived from the original on 5 June 2022. Retrieved 6 June 2022.
  33. ^ Rosenbaum, Jonathan (2 January 2023). "La Internacional Cinéfila Poll: Jonathan Rosenbaum: Best Films of 2022". Year-End Lists. Retrieved 30 September 2023.
  34. ^ Ntim, Zac (4 November 2022). "British Independent Film Awards: 'Aftersun,' 'Blue Jean' & 'The Wonder' Lead Nominations". Deadline. Archived from the original on 4 November 2022. Retrieved 4 November 2022.
  35. ^ Ntim, Zac (18 November 2022). "British Independent Film Awards: 'Aftersun' Leads Craft Winners". Deadline. Archived from the original on 19 November 2022. Retrieved 19 November 2022.
  36. ^ Neglia, Matt (11 December 2022). "The 2022 St. Louis Film Critics Association (StLFCA) Nominations". NextBestPicture. Archived from the original on 12 December 2022. Retrieved 11 December 2022.
  37. ^ "Nominations Announced for the 3rd Annual Critics Choice Super Awards". Critics Choice Association. 22 February 2023. Archived from the original on 23 February 2023. Retrieved 22 February 2023.
  38. ^ Vlessing, Etan (16 March 2023). "'Everything Everywhere All at Once' Wins Big at 2023 Critics Choice Super Awards". The Hollywood Reporter. Archived from the original on 16 March 2023. Retrieved 16 March 2023.

External links edit