The Horrors of Men

Director Alex Garland of Ex Machina (2015) and Annihilation (2018) is kind of like today’s Stanley Kubrick: he delivers suspense in a laborious yet enthralling manner, and his production designs approximate to sterile, Art Deco waiting rooms at the dentist.

Maybe more a “tech thriller” creator, Garland provides a cool, calculated horror story set in a bleak future with bleak people, bleaker cyborgs, and mutant beasts.

With his latest in Men, Alex takes us away from the antiseptic future and closer to a gothic psychodrama along the English countryside. We follow recently widowed Harper (Jessie Buckley from I’m Thinking of Ending Things and The Lost Daughter), who travels alone to a remote manor to find solitude and healing. Did I say “psychodrama?” I should have just said horror movie because this is obviously the perfect setup for no good.

Around the manor community and through the woods, dissociative personas of the same man with dominating English teeth (all played by Rory Kinnear) taunt Harper, shun her, and even streak her. Then, after 70 brilliant minutes of tension, the movie takes a turn only Hellraiser stans would applaud. I don’t want to spoil anything, but the wheels just come off.

Like overrated-by-millennials Midsommar (2019), this one throws out its crafty scrutiny of male narcissism, toxic codependency, and misogyny for cheap thrills and gore. The end result is simply out of ideas and full of fake blood, and that’s pretty much it.

To be fair, Men is a visceral experience, best conceived for the screen but maybe better imagined in the head upon reading the script. It is the stuff of Darren Aronosky’s mother! or Charlie Kaufman’s I’m Thinking of Ending Things. Ever seen those? Well, you should. Or, you shouldn’t. They’re not for everyone, and neither is this movie.

I was surprised to see it at an AMC multiplex (I was the only one in the theatre) where Bob’s Burger was blaring on the left and Doctor Strange was blasting on the right. Out of the three movies, I’d still choose to see Men again over the other two, but I’m not sure if that’s saying much.

**1/2 out of *****

23 thoughts on “The Horrors of Men

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  1. ‘…this one throws out its crafty scrutiny of male narcissism, toxic codependency, and misogyny for cheap thrills and gore. The end result is simply out of ideas and full of fake blood, and that’s pretty much it….’

    This IS the correct answer.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s like a study of how to create a brilliant 70 minutes of suspense and character development and then just flush it down the toilet for no reason but the director’s ability to do so. What a waste. At least Maverick was good enough for another visit 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. LOL… I’ve seen movies like that before. I felt like that for a horror movie a while back called Jeepers Creepers.


    1. Thanks for reading and your contribution. No, Garland is not your guy. Regarding, “Things…,” I thought it was the kind of masturbatory psychosis that puts a halo on Woody Allen’s head and devil horns on Kaufman’s. There’s simply too much wading in the mire of self-loathing and morose martyrdom. I’m not sure if I disliked that one more or less than “Men.”

      Nice reviews you have there. I’m dropping by soon…


  2. Heya Reely, I’m a big fan of Ex Machina and saw it again & reviewed it recently. Unfortunately, I didn’t take to Annihilation and it’s unlikely I’ll see Men as well based on what I have read including your review here. I hope this message finds you well.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah, I wasn’t much of a fan of Annihilation either. I’ll be sure to check out your Ex Machina review! If you wanted to see how fast a movie can derail or simply stop caring, I recommend Men. Hope you and yours are safe and well. It’s a better summer than last year for us, so far.


        1. Meticulous is a great word for Garland. And, yes, I was just as surprised. Honestly, it was a seamless first 70 minutes. I have no clue what he was thinking, and he takes all the directing and writing credit. Just an odd disappointment.

          Yeah, Colorado is growing too fast, but that’s why movies are a peaceful escape 🙂

          Liked by 1 person

            1. Yup – top ten fastest growing cities in the US, Denver and Aurora are #1 in car theft, and the traffic is wretched. That’s why we’re moving further south of the noise.

              Liked by 1 person

            2. I see.. where are the people coming from? California? You’re going to move south towards Texas? Excuse my ignorance of US geography. I don’t know why, but I thought you were based in California.


            3. You’ll excuse me, I’m lost. You are in Colorado, but due to overpopulation you want to move south? South is Texas? And the overpopulation is due to a recent arrival from the places you mentioned.

              Yeh, Colombia is being overridden by Socialist regimes and policies and the COVID pandemic threw light on all with mandatory vaccinations for kids to enter school and requirements for vaccination stamps to enter any public point.

              Colombia is just about to appoint an ex socialist guerrilla fighter as President, so the future looks more than tenuous and reminiscent of what occurred in Venezuela two decades ago.

              Liked by 1 person

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