Review by Camden Ferrell
With his two previous directorial efforts, Ex Machina and Annihilation, Alex Garland has established himself as one of the most exciting directors working today. His new movie, Men, is a horror movie that sees him expanding his cinematic horizons for better or worse. The movie features a masterful lead performance from Jessie Buckley and some gorgeous cinematography, but it can feel the slightest bit uneven at times.
After a traumatic incident, Harper decides to go on a vacation to the countryside of England to clear her mind and heal. Upon arrival, ominous happenings with the locals proves things are not as they seem. This premise is simple on paper, but Garland has a special way of weaving emotionally complex characters into these stories to make it feel fresh and original.
While its writing is above average, it pales in comparison to Garland’s previous films. This movie tackles universal and complex themes with grace, and it creates a memorable lead character. However, it sometimes doesn’t balance the horror, drama, and emotion the way it needs to. His previous movie, Annihilation, is a complex and beautifully written movie, but this movie fails to be as consistent as his previous efforts.
The most outstanding aspect of this film is Jessie Buckley’s lead performance. She has consistently proven that she is one of the most talented actresses in recent years, and this is another masterful performance under her belt. She plays the pain, fear, and sorrow with such breathtaking emotion, and it still makes the movie worth watching even in some of its duller moments. Rory Kinnear is also fittingly creepy in his unique performance alongside Buckley.
Another great thing about this movie is its gorgeous cinematography. From the start, the movie is meticulously crafted from a visual standpoint, and it’s gorgeous and haunting. While the scares and thrills don’t always land and it can take a while for it to build up momentum, Garland once again shows that he knows how to make an unforgettable final act. It’s gruesome, shocking, and emotional, and it should still captivate even the film’s harshest critics.
Men is ambitious, and it’s bound to be a divisive outing from Garland. Buckley is astonishingly profound in this role, and it’s a visual treat. The slow pacing and uneven execution in the first half tend to bog down the overall product. Regardless of its flaws, this is a movie that’s definitely worth viewing as it’s sure to inspire many discussions upon release.
Men is in theaters May 20.