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Men; Summer Movie Season Just got Hit with a Wild One From A24. Grade: B-

Men tells a story about a woman named Harper (Jesse Buckley) whom is going on a mini vacation, to help cope after the tragic loss of her ex husband, whom committed suicide. What Harper hoped to be a relaxing peaceful environment in which can help her heal this tragedy, she will however be acquainted with an unexpected visitor, in which stalks her.

Nice to see film maker Alex Garland coming back to the A24 scene, as he’s actually responsible for A24’s first hit with Ex Machina. I’ve enjoyed Alex Garland’s films Ex Machina and Annihilation, both pretty solid sci-fi films as I both highly recommend them. As now Garland comes back with a horror film… There is much curiosity as how will this play out, given the fact Garland is going on an entirely different direction here, in terms of genre.

Men is a visually stunning film, I mean the film is absolutely gorgeous to look at as the set pieces and locations are stellar. Even the haunted imagery whether it be Harper’s ex falling out of the window or especially disturbing imagery in the third act… Just looks fantastic on a visual scale, kind of reminds me of HellRaiser in a way. The Score was pretty damn good! I really enjoyed the composed Score especially, I like what was done when Harper echoes in a dark tunnel, as it brought a nice terror tune later on. I like the song selections especially, fits well with the scenes especially.

The cast all in all were pretty damn good. Jesse Buckley continues to be a striking force as an up and coming actresses, as she delivers yet another great performance as Harper. The character Harper was pretty well written, as this beloved partner whom basically had to leave an unhealthy relationship, which then led to an unfortunate tragic ending to her ex husband. Though Harper did the right thing by leaving the man, but it’s understandable as why herself is so devastated but more so haunted, I mean the thought of feeling responsible for one’s death is horrible as it’ll take a great amount of therapy to overcome that feeling.

I didn’t watch any trailers of Men, however considering what was said on paper I assumed this was going to be an entertaining kind of horror film, that involved a stalker perhaps. I’m really surprised I thought it was going to turn out as a simple entertaining premise, knowing damn well what kind of mind Alex Garland has. When the film cut to black, I literally sat in my seat for the entire credits, just thinking and debating with myself what I thought about the film, which normally doesn't happen often. Men is a film in which I don’t consider it to be the best A24 film nor the best Alex Garland, however I will say the film is an experience for sure as this is perhaps the most thought revoking film of Garland’s career.

Honestly my main issue with this entire film is the third act. I felt the first two acts with regards to the story and the moral messaging of the film with regards to men in general, jumped off to a solid start. Sure I will say the messaging does beat you over the head a tad bit, however at least the messaging was straight forward to where it’s constructed properly and you can understand it.

The third act however… It felt over the top, bizarre, as it’s kind of difficult to take it seriously. Don’t get me wrong the way it presents itself does make valid sense towards the messaging perhaps, however I just felt it was all over the place and I even felt Garland took it too far in attempting to add Sci-Fi even. I mean you’ll understand once you see this film… You can have slight appreciation for it especially considering one sequence at hand lines up to the moral messaging of the film, but I felt it’s too much.

I felt Men executes two themes pretty well, with regards to why Women feel fearful to date or even be around Men, while also displaying why Women feel extremely guilty when comes to Men in general, or even Mental Health as well. As you can clearly see while Harper is on this vacation rental: Her experience with Men is just downright awful. There’s a Man stalking her, there’s a Man being a creep, there’s a Man being insensitive towards her feelings about a personal matter, there’s a Man completely ignoring her safety. Within all her encounters with Men in this one specific place: It truly shows why exactly women are ever so hesitant and often fearful when it comes to being involved and around Men in general. Even when a Man from the outside appears to be a nice guy, a police officer, or heck even a pastor… Women still have this slight hesitancy because it doesn’t really matter at the end of the day what they are or what they look like, Men can still be complete monsters.

I felt the development in which Harper felt as if she feels guilty on this sort of matter, was very effective. You see though Harper shouldn’t feel responsible of her ex husband committing suicide, however as you can clearly see where she moves forward on this vacation… Every man around her puts her at fault towards everything. I feel what Garland is trying to say is Women feel their at fault for every single thing, so Women feel guilty for just breathing even, as they feel they’re the culprit no matter what the situation is. It truly explains why her feeling extremely haunted about this whole matter, continues to build up in her mind, as every single man she comes across with makes her feel terrible about herself or feels completely guilty even when Men are mistreating her. Even though I’m not too crazy about the finale sequence, it however is a clear metaphor that this sort of thing is repeated cycle that goes on over and over again, generations after generations, even though it’s presented in the most extreme possible way, it’s still effective.

I also thought in terms of Mental Health, the film does touch minimal basis on the matter. As Harper is clearly severely depressed, she felt she can handle this matter on her own by being isolated in this rental home. As we’ve learned in the past especially during the beginning of 2020: Too much isolation when it comes to not being in the right place in mind and you’re completely alone on top of it, is the worst way to handle your Mental Health. It’s best to either talk to someone about what you’re going through or actually be productive, you can not handle this state of mind by yourself or be in a state of isolation as it’ll likely make the matter worsen.

Men is a film in which I feel will be better upon multiple viewings, since I’ve watched it like hours ago, it’s growing more and more on me in my mind. I feel Alex Garland made a truly unique horror film, touching on multiple themes, it may not be his best but I appreciate the bold effort to go outside of your own comfort zone and trying something different, as you still make it rather intriguing.

Overall, Men was a fairly decent film. I recommend checking this one out, it is definitely a film that needs to be shown in a theatrical setting, especially for the visuals. Keep in mind: This film is certainly not for everyone so be warned, especially for all the love birds whom are hoping to have a nice date horror movie night… This is not a date night movie, unless you want to have an unforgettable date experience, then that’s is a guarantee. -Mitch Smietana

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