Run time: 100 mins
A young widow’s English staycation degrades from blissful to bloody in Alex Garland’s newest folk-horror hit.
Alex Garland made his name with sci-fi thrillers Ex Machina and Annihilation. His newest venture into the folk-horror genre is no less impressive; a twisting, morphing beast rearing its masculine heads in the pastoral idyll of an English village.
With chunky knitwear, walking boots, and home-grown apples in abundance, Men initially appears a saccharine ode to Home Counties comforts. Indeed, for the recently widowed Harper Marlowe (Jessie Buckley), it appears the perfect site for respite following her husband James’ (Paapa Essiedu) apparent suicide. But the countryside proves no place to escape the past – or anything else, for that matter – as flashbacks and hallucinations blight Harper’s stay.
As images of James’ death and echoes of their arguments increase in frequency, the countryside calm disintegrates. She is followed by a naked figure, terrorised by smashing windows, and every man she meets begins to bear a resemblance to Geoffrey (Rory Kinnear), the holiday home’s owner.
As disturbing as it is disturbed, its suspense and surrealism may be shape-shifting, but its efficacy is a constant.