Sunday, October 9, 2022

REVIEW: Men (live action movie)

Men is a 2022 horror film. I bought my copy brand new.

This review includes spoilers.


Harper Marlowe has traveled to the village of Cotson to emotionally recuperate after her soon-to-be ex-husband's death. In flashbacks, viewers see that James, her husband, attempted to emotionally manipulate her into staying with him by threatening to commit suicide if she left. However, it's unclear whether his death was suicide or just an accident.

Initially, Cotson seems like a lovely and perfect place to heal. It becomes much less appealing after Harper has a frightening encounter with a filthy and naked man. Soon, every man (and boy) Harper meets behaves menacingly to her in one way or another, until finally the nightmare comes to a very personal head.

Facebook bombarded me with ads for this movie, which would usually be reason enough to skip it, except the trailer and teasers did look interesting. When I spotted the DVD on sale, I decided to give it a shot, even though I hadn't yet found an answer for one of my primary concerns, "Does the movie have sexual violence/rape?" That's one of my hard no's for what I'm willing to see on-screen. I can now answer the question for others: although a character strongly threatens Harper with rape, he doesn't make it much further than some skin crawlingly repulsive dialogue and an attempt to press his (still fully clothed) body against her (also fully clothed).

Alex Garland, the movie's director, repeatedly said in the "making of" featurette that he didn't want to say too many specifics about what the movie was trying to communicate, because he wanted viewers to find their own meanings and interpretations. From my perspective, the movie's message didn't actually seem all that complex. It was basically over an hour an a half of men putting a great deal of effort into refusing to take responsibility for their own actions and emotions. Some references to the Green Man and Sheela na gig were mixed in and allowed to explode into menacing weirdness by the end.

I don't generally look up screenwriters or directors before watching movies. As a woman, Harper's experiences and the way men spoke to her felt real enough, if about as subtle as a sledgehammer. The moment when I felt compelled to look up whether the writer/director was a man because I was suddenly 99% sure he was, was the slow, bizarre serial birthing scene at the end. I don't know how to articulate it, but I couldn't imagine a woman ever putting something like that in a movie like this. And it just kept going on and on.

Men was such a weird horror movie. It had some genuinely unsettling moments, but somehow all of that dissolved during the movie's bloodiest final scenes, which were more ridiculous than horrific.


"Rebirth: The Making of Men" - worth watching if you want a bit more Green Man info. Also, after seeing him as a bunch of menacing male characters, it's weird seeing Rory Kinnear as himself. I was glad to hear that he's not a method actor.

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