If you’re familiar with A24, the same studio that created Hereditary, then you know the studio’s legacy with horror films and how they usually make movies that can make your brain spin and your stomach turn in unison. Starring Jessie Buckley as Harper Marlowe, Men is centered around a young woman who suffers a personal tragedy in her life and decides to take a retreat to the English countryside to recover. One of the latest thrillers to come from the aforementioned studio, A24’s Men does an amazing job of frightening the viewer with haunting imagery while also making the audience question its deeper meanings.
Men has many complex themes revolving around relationships, self-respect and the rebirth of one’s self-image, while adding some disturbing visuals on top of them. Men showcases beautiful shots of the English countryside throughout the film, bringing the audience into an environment filled with nature and filling your screen with a sense of peace while dealing with some very heavy topics underneath it all. Men manages to frighten the viewer like a traditional thriller would, but also leaves you questioning what the entire film was truly all about.
If you like horror, thriller and movies that make you wonder what you’ve just seen, then Men definitely deserves a spot on your watch list. Here’s why.
The Theme of Relationships
Most horror films do a good job in scaring the audience the typical way—blood and guts spewed across the screen from an obvious villain. Men manages to capture the horror movie genre feel but does so in a way that makes you wonder who’s the bad guy in the film…or if there’s even a bad guy to begin with. Harper Marlowe is a woman who has suffered loss; the tragedy has to do with a relationship and how she was previously dealing with it. Throughout the film, there are flashbacks to Harper’s relationship with her former spouse, James Marlowe, and the film does a great job with connecting the relationship themes to the demons she faces in the film.
The same themes from her past begin to creep up again in a new form while she’s trying to emotionally and physically recover. The underlying themes regarding her relationship with her former spouse are what drives Harper’s decisions and behavior. She has suffered in her past relationship, trying to escape from that life and now Harper has to face the same problems again, but in a new way. Alex Garland, the director of Men, is able to connect these themes to the story and visuals while simultaneously scaring the audience with them.
The Hauntingly Gruesome Imagery
Men is a thriller that some would probably consider a slow burn. There isn’t much gore or grime in the beginning, but it does a perfect job with setting it up later on in the film with some quick flashbacks. Scenes portraying moments from the tragedy that Harper previously faced are inserted early on and makes you wonder what the story is behind it all. Later on near the film’s climax, the movie begins to show more of the sickening imagery that ties in with some of its underlying themes like the rebirth of one’s self-image.
Dead birds, broken bones and mutilated limbs are some of the visuals that you can expect regarding this thriller and much more. There’s a scene during the climax of the film that would make any horror fan want to cover their eyes and look away, but it somehow keeps your gaze locked onto the screen in a mesmerizing and horrifying way. Without spoiling anything, it’s probably safe to say that you will think about it days after watching this film.
Men seems to gradually build into the more horrifying visuals while adding themes to them at the same time, making you question the deeper meaning behind every gruesome event that is depicted on screen.
The Beautiful Scenery Throughout
England is the setting for the A24 thriller, and it does an amazing job with capturing some of the beauty that the English countryside has to offer. As Harper drives along the highway to her getaway destination, the camera follows her blue car traveling down an almost empty road. Beautiful shots of trees and grassy plains fill up the screen, making the viewer feel calm and peaceful.
Harper’s new residence in the village of Cotson, Herefordshire feels like a nature filled dream come true. Stone walls covering vibrant green grass and the village’s old architecture feels like you’re being whisked away to a place where time hasn’t touched. The country house that Harper rents out from Geoffrey (played by Rory Kinnear) feels ancient with its old metal gates and low oak beams, but also feels very cozy at the same time.
Harper decides to take a walk during some parts of the film, and the paths that she chooses to take immerse you in beautiful nature-filled scenes, where the trees are surrounding her and there is nothing but green and old architecture for miles to see.
If you’re a fan of psychological thrillers or horror movies in general, then Garland has a treat for you in the form of Men. It’s a film that deals with very serious topics while adding a touch of horror, thrills, and suspense for the viewers. Men has a unique view on the aspects of relationships that have taken a dark turn and utilizes its gruesome imagery, underlying themes regarding love and beautiful dream-like scenery to bring a new chilling experience to the audience.
Sure, this movie might make you want to watch a couple of explanation videos and articles, so you can figure out what just happened, but the watch will definitely be worth it when you come to your own conclusions.