• Sarah Kirk

A24’s MEN is Poised to be Eerie with a Male Presence that is Constant and Threatening

Sarah Kirk says A24's MEN is apt to be a surrealist psychological horror film with powerful imagery and performances.

Jessie Buckley in Alex Garland's MEN from A24, coming to theaters May 20, 2022.
Courtesy of A24

MEN (2022), A24's newest film, is directed by Alex Garland and stars Acadamy Award Nominee Jessie Buckley and Rory Kinnear playing around ten different characters. This horror film centers around Harper, who takes a vacation in the English countryside following the unexplained death of her husband (Paapa Essiedu). During her stay, she suspects a man is following her, stating she feels haunted. Harper begins to experience minacious interactions with local men, all of whom seem to have extremely unsettling auras. Harper endures in the film’s official trailer distraught, afraid and alone. The trailer features pointed themes of gaslighting and truly upsetting scares.

MEN presents itself as a surrealist, folk horror film. Garland’s objective is to disrupt the predictability of horror films and provide something new, stating “I’m in my early 50s and my main problem with film tends to be feeling bored. I sort of feel like I know where this is gonna go, I feel like I’ve seen this or that sequence of events play out an unbelievable number of times. I’m hoping to disrupt that a bit.” The film also intends to comment on gender, hence the title. Kinnear discusses his perception of his characters and gender, regarding the film's content. He says “each of them was a symbolic representation of a male threat or attitude. Describing each one as fully rounded”, Kinnear said that “while they may vary in their level of threat, they would all personify the male tendency to belittle or spite or slight.” I am eager to see Kinnear and Buckley's on-screen interaction in this intense and visceral horror film.

With films like Ex Machina (2014) and Annihilation (2018), director Alex Garland has already been recognized for his talents in the film industry. Garland taps into his wide artistic range, creating an aggressive film centered around images rather than cerebral or intellectual big picture questions, like in Ex Machina. While dark humor is sprinkled throughout, Garland intends to put forward a thematic, direct, and instinctive film. His previous films have touched upon gender but MEN is more “surface level”. The film’s release will certainly strengthen his reputation as a director, and audiences can look forward to an exceptional, disturbing, and shocking film. Based on the trailer alone, we can assume this psychological horror will be visceral and primal in its presentation, with intense, and evocative imagery.

MEN will release theatrically on May 20, 2022, in theatres followed by its Cannes Film Festival debut.