Alex Garland once again shows an unmatched ability to conjure a beautifully uneasy atmosphere, the sense of which lingers on past the closing credits — but the substance underneath doesn’t quite connect.
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Strip away the pitch-perfect atmosphere and the genuinely unsettling climax, and his ideas feel shallower than they’ve ever been.
For all of its singularly bizarre thrills, all of which reaffirm Garland as a vital interpreter for a world that’s coming apart at the seems, Men is the first of his films that makes life feel simpler than it really is.
The fact that the outcome is wide open to different interpretations makes Men a more ambiguous work than Garland’s sci-fi horror hybrids, Ex Machina and Annihilation. It’s also more menacing and viscerally creepy.
To put it in a way the kids do: Men is vibes.
The film is all the better for not over-explaining its gleefully outrageous final moments, but one wishes the journey getting there was handled with more consideration.
More disappointing, maybe, is how much the story takes Buckley's agency away as it goes on, her defiant, sharply defined presence in the first hour giving way to the bog-standard helplessness of every woman trapped in a horror movie. Men's eerie, encompassing mood lingers; the rest is a mystery.
It is an unsubtle and schematic but very well-acted Brit folk-horror pastiche from the writer-director Alex Garland; it feels like a reverse-engineered version of The League of Gentlemen, with the overt comic intention concealed or denied.
Garland’s active engagement with his themes, moods, and show-stopping ick is still something to be reckoned with in today’s climate of fear in the film industry regarding original stories.
Men, from Ex Machina and Annihilation director Alex Garland, is a folk-horror movie about gendered trauma that quickly falls apart. It skillfully builds tension in its first half — with the help of brilliant lead performances — only to have that tension dissipate when its inventive metaphors become consumed by traditional staging and literal explanations.