We’ve seen Men, Alex Garland’s visceral and terrifying nightmare

After an exceptional 2021 in July, Cannes returns in May for its 2022 edition and its rich selection of around a hundred more or less anticipated films. After his zombie opening with Cut!, so the festival is in full swing, revealing a little more of its gems (or not) every day. It’s about time we gave you our hot take on it menthe horror film by Alex Garland.

Why is ? Having just experienced personal drama with her husband, Harper (the incredible Jessie Buckley) decides to go to the country to relax and hope to pick himself up. But as soon as you get there and meet the owner of the house (Rory Kinnear in the role(s) of his life), a strange atmosphere spreads and most importantly, someone or something seems to be after her. .

How was it ? men is probably one of the craziest movie experiences you will experience in 2022. We knew Alex Garland wasn’t a griffin, quite the opposite given his amazing first film Ex Machinathe confirmation with their insecurity destruction and above all its impressive series Developer, ambitious and poetic exploration of human existence.

In just two films and one series, the director and screenwriter has proven that he is one of the masters of contemporary SF thrillers. But with Men, The gentleman will push the limits of his cinematic experiments a little further by dealing with pure horror.

The turning point

Opening the gaunt eyes of his heroine Harper, men immediately lays the groundwork for her story: the young woman is lost, upset, and will try to find meaning in her life after witnessing the trauma before her (and our) eyes in her London flat. Because it is this trauma that triggers the orange opening men shows in slow motion how Memories Harper will keep rehashing throughout the filmalmost frozen moments she can’t seem to recover from, in love with a guilt that eats her up from the inside.

So, unsurprisingly for Alex Garland, the feature film begins as a psychological drama that allows him to further explore one of his favorite subjects: grief. So Harper flees to the English countryside for a long relaxing week. And even if her friendly host is very insensitive (and makes a remark about the rules), she decides to take advantage of the place and the surroundings. men then sinks into a long ultra-sensory trek amidst a vast forest and near an agonizing tunnel from which terror is born.

Men: Photo Rory Kinnear

“Is someone there?”

The feature film changes from there. The initial psychodrama gradually turns into a thriller for Home Invasion Embrace the horror film in a delicious mix of folk horror and body horrorin a final bloody and visceral organic act. Difficult to say more about it men without really spoiling the story and especially all its unexpected twists. It is all the more difficult to put such a cinema suggestion into words after one and the same visit. because men is certainly a real experience, a unique offering in the current system, disturbingly free and insanely rich.

In 1h40, Alex Garland takes rare risks and takes them to the end (even if sometimes it means that he lacks subtlety), determined to offer a unique journey of extreme density. He does it with just a few shots Switch from one genre to another to create impressive tension without ever falling into the ease of the horror genre’s basic jumpscares. On the contrary, thanks to a hyper-clean staging, the horror is profound, sincere and aggressive.

Between a simple cell phone that nudges towards a hellish gorge, a photo that reveals the presence of a distraught stranger, or a highly stressful game of voyeurism with the viewer, the director bursts with visual ideas (damn those men with identical faces) and explodes opposites of the Fear (supported by the destabilizing music of the Ben Salisbury-Geoff Barrow duo) and this, even if the story is not without an amusingly absurd and cynical humor.

Men: Photo Rory Kinnear

All the same ?

Furthermore, this staging always supports a real reflection on the themes of the film while there are many subtexts of interpretation. In fact, Alex Garland explores all of his favorite themes: there’s nature and there’s faith (in a juxtaposition that will bring to mind Mother! by Darren Aronofsky to certain viewers, but forever), loneliness, sadness (as mentioned above), but above all the place of women and toxic masculinity.

Two subjects that had already appeared in his two previous films (Ex Machina especially with its two men trying to create the ideal woman in artificial intelligence and destruction with his scientific wives released in a mysterious zone where a group of men failed) that the director places at the heart of his story and his reflections on society, religion…

Men: Photo Jessie BuckleyReligion and especially the Bible, a non-negligible part of the subject

For real, Alex Garland appropriates the codes of horror to examine relationships between men and women to the point of total confusion: is the surrealistic horror on screen finally a horror and very real for the women? A waking nightmare that they are the only ones who have to feel, live or suffer every day in a patriarchal society like ours? And will humans be able to evolve to be reborn in a different form? Or, despite everything, will the mindsets they forged be etched into their core forever?

Without drawing any conclusions men takes a creative and frightening look at the situation and then opens up avenues of reflection on today’s world (and its origins), hoping to animate, stimulate the audience. as said The film will spark heated debates, shocking many of its viewers and risking widely dividing opinions. However, one thing is certain men will remain a unique film in everyone’s eyes and Alex Garland will certainly be one of the great filmmakers of our time.

And when is it coming out? In French cinemas from June 8th and you’re clearly not ready.

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