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Men is a 2022 British psychological folk horror drama film written and directed by Alex Garland and starring Jessie Buckley and Rory Kinnear. Produced by A24, the film was released on May 20, 2022, and was also screened in the Directors' Fortnight section of that year's Cannes Film Festival.

Harper Marlowe (Buckley) travels to the small village of Cotson in the English countryside for a two-week holiday, renting a holiday house from local caretaker Geoffrey (Kinnear). She intends on using the time to rest, recuperate, and most of all recover from intense emotional fallout surrounding the recent death of her husband James.

However, Harper's plans for healing are halted as she realizes there is something abnormal about the town where she's staying — more specifically, the men she encounters. Soon, events beyond her imagination turn the idyllic getaway into a nightmare, inhabited by the painful memories and guilt that continue to haunt her.

Men is notably Garland's first directorial effort completely outside of the genre of Science Fiction, although he had previously worked with horror elements in Annihilation.

Previews: teaser, trailer.

This film provides examples of:

  • '80s Hair: One of the guys in the bar who later tries to break into the house has a mullet.
  • Abusive Parents: Geoffrey says that his father told him "You have the precise qualities of a failed military man" when he was only seven years old and then says, "It's time to show him what's what" before running off to defend the "Damsel in Distress".
  • Accidental Misnaming: Subverted. Geoffrey refers to Harper as "Mrs. Marlowe" several times, even after she corrects him several times. Geoffrey, in response, plays it off as forgetfulness on his behalf. When he finally snarls a venomous and emphasized "Mrs. Marlowe" at Harper during their final showdown, it becomes crystal clear that is really a case of Malicious Misnaming.
  • Advertising by Association: The film's trailer mentions that director/writer Alex Garland also directed and wrote Ex Machina and Annihilation (2018).
  • Apologetic Attacker: James breaks down softly and apologizes after punching Harper in the face; she isn't having it for a second, though, and she promptly throws him out of her flat.
  • Barefoot Suicide: James is barefoot when he falls off the building, although it's ambiguous whether he accidentally slipped or intentionally jumped.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Both Geoffrey and the vicar appear to be much friendlier and gentler than the other men in the village, but their true colors show eventually.
  • Body Horror: Harper stabs the naked man through the arm as he sticks it through the mail slot, and he pulls it out so that the arm is split down the middle. The young man and vicar also have the same arm wound when they confront Harper — not that it seems to bother any of them. And that's saying nothing of the birthing scene.
  • British Teeth: Downplayed. While Geoffrey has bright, white teeth, he also has pronounced buck teeth (which are notably not Kinnear's natural chompers), making him come off as just a bit "off" and even subtly threatening at times when he smiles.
  • Campbell Country: The film is set in rural England, in a village where something strange is clearly going on, with Alex Garland stating that a big focus of the film is "the horror of rural England. It's certain kinds of churches, certain kinds of forest — the shadows within dark green."
  • Casting Gag: Sonoya Mizuno has a vocal cameo as the police receptionist but does not appear on screen. In her two previous roles in Alex Garland's films, she appeared visually but had no lines.
  • Color Motifs:
    • The outdoors are always presented in bright vivid greens, as befitting the English countryside. It also underscores the supernatural forces lurking quietly beneath the surface.
    • The indoors, including the walls of Harper's rented house, and the pub, are always dark red. That underscores that seeking refuge inside is no assurance of safety against the entity that pursues Harper.
    • Flashback scenes are all lit with an intense sunset orange.
  • Creepy Child: The boy with the female mask, whose malevolence is obvious from the moment he appears on-screen. It doesn't help that he has the face of the middle-aged Rory Kinnear superimposed over his own.
  • Damsel in Distress: Though Harper begs him not to venture into the garden to search for the intruder, Geoffrey brushes her off and proclaims, "Damsel in distress, I'm just your fella." He implies that he's trying to prove his father wrong for calling him a coward when he was a child.
  • Deathly Dies Irae: In the full trailer, Harper’s echoing voice in the tunnel is replayed at different pitches to form the four notes of dies irae. This repeats in the climax of the film.
  • Domestic Abuse: James punches Harper in the face during their last fight before he dies. While Harper says that this was the first time he ever hit her, the relationship was shown to be quite emotionally abusive before then.
  • Don't Go in the Woods: While Harper's walk in the woods is at first peaceful, it's also where she first encounters the naked man who begins stalking her. While she never returns after the encounter, the few times we see it afterwards aren't pleasant.
  • Driven to Suicide: Possibly. At one point in his relationship with Harper, James threatened to kill himself if she went through with divorcing him, and tried unsuccessfully to maliciously convince her that it would be as if she killed him herself. In a later fight, he punched her in the face, after which she violently threw him out of her flat. As she then explains to the vicar, James apparently pushed his way into the flat above hers, went out onto its balcony and tried to climb down to hers, after which he fell to his death. As Harper acknowledges, it's left deliberately ambiguous whether he accidentally slipped or intentionally let go; the vicar suggests she drove her husband to it.
  • Entitled to Have You: At the end of the film, a worn-out Harper asks the grisly reborn James what he wants from her. James laconically replies, "Your love."
  • Fan Disservice:
    • The stalker is stark naked in every appearance, but he's also covered in open wounds and filth. And then he gets worse.
    • There are many explicit shots of male and female genitalia, especially in the last half of the movie. None of them are the least bit titillating.
  • Gainax Ending: Harper attempts to drive away from the house, but accidentally hits and is then carjacked by Geoffrey, who turns the car around, chases her, and crashes the car in front of the house. The naked man then appears before her in full Green Man form, after which he gives graphic, violent birth to Samuel, who then does the same to the vicar, then Geoffrey, and then finally James. Harper picks up an ax and calmly sits down with James, who states that he still blames her for his death and still wants her love. She holds the ax thoughtfully, after which we see Riley (revealed to be pregnant) finally arriving at the house, seeing the blood trail out front, and finding Harper sitting in the garden, who smiles when she sees her.
  • Ghostly Gape:
    • One shot features Harper screaming at the bottom of a full bathtub; the distortion the water creates makes her mouth seem abnormally long.
    • When Riley's video calls cut out from interference, a distorted image of her face screaming appears amidst the visual distortions.
  • Gross-Up Close-Up: During the birthing sequence, the camera puts graphic, explicit focus on the vaginas on the men's bodies dilating and bloodily ripping themselves open.
  • Haunted Heroine: While speaking to the priest, Harper explicitly refers to herself as being "haunted"; her husband recently died in a possible suicide (which she witnessed), and she's travelled to the countryside in an attempt to recuperate, only to be stalked by the either the men in town, something mimicking them, or both.
  • Hell Is That Noise: Whenever Harper feels menaced, we hear a horrible barking/screeching sound. It's unclear if Harper hears it, too, or if it's just part of the soundtrack.
  • Idyllic English Village: Cotson, with its manor house and ancient church.
  • Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: The messy aftermath of James' apparent suicide sees his body horribly mangled by the iron fence he landed on, with two of the fence prongs having pierced his chest and arm and a third having taken a part of his skull.
  • "Just Joking" Justification: Geoffrey sternly tells Harper she shouldn't have eaten an apple from the tree outside. When she begins to apologize, he laughs and says he was only joking; although Harper laughs and smiles as well, she's clearly uncomfortable and there's underlying tension.
  • Late to the Tragedy: Riley, Harper's friend who she FaceTimes throughout the film, finally agrees to come to the house to check on her. By the time she gets there, it is the morning after all of the terrifying events of the film have happened.
  • Left the Background Music On: Lesley Duncan's "Love Song" plays over a montage of Harper driving to the holiday house. The instant she turns her car off, it stops, as if it was playing on the radio.
  • Light-Flicker Teleportation: In one scene, Harper opens the door at night to find the policeman outside. He doesn't answer the questions she asks him; when she asks why he isn't replying, the house's lights flicker and he disappears.
  • Logo Joke: In the trailer, the A24 logo is depicted through an overhead shot of the garden with apples falling in the shape of the logo.
  • Mad Love: James is pathological in his refusal to admit that his marriage is over and does whatever he can, from emotional extortion to physical abuse, to keep Harper from leaving him. In the end, when the creature turns into James, and Harper asks what he wants from her, he says simply, "Your love."
  • Malicious Misnaming: While it is technically her name, Harper expresses discomfort with being called "Mrs. Marlowe" after her husband dies, preferring to be called "Ms. Marlowe." Geoffrey tries to acquiesce at first, but at the climax, he drags her out of her car, snarling "Mrs. Marlowe!"
  • Mister Seahorse: Possibly one of the most disgusting and horrifying examples in film history. Near the end of the film, after she successfully fights all the men off, they start giving birth to each other, one after another in sequence. Given that they are, for the most part, full-grown men, this process mutilates their bodies.
  • Mysterious Past: All that we know about Harper's life is that she's Irish (considering Buckley speaks in her natural accent), she's friends with a woman named Riley, and she was in an abusive relationship with her husband James before he killed himself. Other than that:
    • It's unclear how she met James or Riley.
    • It's unclear what her job is.
    • When she's asked by Geoffrey if she can play the piano, she says no; however, later in the movie, she's shown doing just that. Why she felt the need to lie is, again, left unclear (although the scene suggests she's avoiding giving Geoffrey any opportunity for additional conversation or reasons to linger).
  • Naked Nutter: Harper is repeatedly menaced by a naked man who is dismissed as a harmless loon by the police.
  • Nature Spirit: While it is not obvious at first, the mysterious stalker who menaces Harper is seen adorning himself with oak leaves, which then even later begin to outright grow out of his skin, implying him to be the Green Man, a figure in English folklore who has a somewhat ambiguous origin, but is commonly associated with paganism and Britain's Celtic past and is seen as a symbol of spring and rebirth.
  • No Ending: After a horrifying sequence where the men of the town give birth to each other one after another in a row, the last one takes the form of James. He blames Harper for his death and asks for her love, but the film ends before we see her response, though she appears to refuse. There is a stinger, but all it confirms is that Harper survived, and that the car crashed into the stone fixture and the trail of blood leading into the house are real, as Riley can see them.
  • Obliquely Obfuscated Occupation: It's left unclear what Harper does for a living, except for an implication that it has something to do with finance. She apparently does quite well for herself, seeing how she can afford a two-week holiday in a handsome English country house, not to mention an apartment overlooking the Thames, but aside from a work call where she talks about "figures" we never get a hint as to what she does.
  • Our Monsters Are Weird: If taken literally, whatever is menacing Harper is apparently some sort of hive-mind of males with the same face that can teleport and give birth to new versions of itself. Given the surreal nature of the film, however, it's likely not intended to be literal and instead act as a metaphor for the dangerous insecurities of men.
  • Police Are Useless: While police do arrest the naked man who tried to break into Harper's rental house, they just as quickly clothe him and let him go, claiming no crime was committed. When Harper reiterates that the man was trying to break in, the policeman just shrugs and tells her to call again if she needs help.
  • Protect This House: The stalker repeatedly attempts to break into the holiday house where Harper is staying, while she desperately tries to keep him out. It ultimately doesn't work, although Harper survives anyway.
  • Reality Has No Soundtrack: Downplayed. There is a soundtrack, but it isn't used all the time, and there are long stretches with just sounds from the English countryside.
  • Rule of Symbolism: The film very much runs on it.
    • All the men in Cotson have the same face, but it is never directly acknowledged by the narrative, making it clear that it is a literary device of sorts.
    • The mysterious stalker, who is implied to be the Green Man, a mythical figure who is very much steeped in death-and-rebirth symbolism in his own right.
    • During the final confrontation, all of the men who attack Harper gradually come to suffer the same injuries that James sustained in his death.
    • Harper's first act upon reaching the holiday house is to pick an apple from the tree in the garden and eat it, with clear overtones of Eve. Geoffrey makes it clear when he admonishes her for eating "forbidden fruit." The apple tree is frequently seen through the rest of the film.
    • The vicar quotes the poem "Leda and the Swan" to Harper, and refers to himself as "the swan" - the swan in the poem being a shapeshifted Zeus who took on the form to rape a human woman, not unlike the mysterious entity's apparent goal.
  • Rustproof Blood: When Riley arrives at the house hours after the incident has concluded, all of the blood is still bright red.
  • Scenery Dissonance: The mysterious stalker is first seen by Harper as he trails her around from a distance in bright, pastoral daylight.
  • Scenery Porn: There are some truly gorgeous shots of the English countryside in this movie.
  • Sex Is Evil, and I Am Horny: When the vicar confronts Harper in the bathroom, he proclaims her and her gender to be Made of Evil, even as he is clearly lusting after her and then proceeds to try to force himself upon her.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here: When the sinister sillhouette of a man starts running toward her through the tunnel, Harper wastes no time in turning around and running in the other direction.
  • Sinister Minister: The vicar Harper confides in starts suggesting she was in some way to blame for her husband's death despite her protestations. He also puts his hand on her knee while she looks uncomfortable. Special attention is paid to him putting on lip balm and licking his lips after she leaves. Lastly, when he confronts Harper in her house, he makes crude remarks about her sexuality before attempting to rape her.
  • Sinister Silhouettes: When Harper is walking through the tunnel, she sees the silhouette of a male figure get up off the ground and then stand at the other side, motionless. Given that she can't make out any detail of the figure to explain his behavior or gauge his intentions, Harper is immediately put on guard. Then he starts inexplicably running toward her, making Harper immediately turn around and flee. It's never explained who (or which) man this is, but given that he appears to be wearing a jacket, he's likely not the naked man she's menaced by shortly thereafter.
  • Spurned into Suicide: When Harper demanded a divorce, James threatened to kill himself if she went through with it, as a way to dissuade her. If James' death was him deciding to make good on his threat, or really was just an accident is ultimately left ambiguous.
  • Surreal Horror: Many examples. To start, every man in town has the same face, but no one seems to notice comment on. While something the events of the movie can only be explained as the result of some supernatural force, there is nothing to suggest what that could be. And then there's the birthing sequence.
  • Tempting Apple: Perhaps one of the film's the most obvious riffs on Biblical Motifs. One of the first scenes is one of Harper helping herself to a morsel from the rented property's apple tree. To hammer it home, Geoffrey later jokes that she has taken "forbidden fruit". Even later, we see the mysterious naked stalker also helping himself to an apple from the tree.
  • Troubling Unchildlike Behaviour: Samuel, the young boy who accosts Harper by the church certainly counts. When she refuse to play hide and seek with him, he angrily calls her a "stupid bitch" and overtly turns physically menacing.
  • Voice of the Legion: In the trailers, a POV shot rushing at Harper as she stands in front of her house is accompanied by a vicious multilayered yell.
  • Womb Horror: In the film's climax, the presence menacing Harper gets pregnant and gives birth to himself through increasingly strange orifices several times in a row.
  • Yank the Dog's Chain: The naked man reaches out to Harper through her mail slot twice, and the first time it happens, she assumes it's a show of hostility. The second time, he reaches out to her in a manner that's less threatening and more plaintive, so she responds by offering her own hand... only for him to roughly grab her by the wrist so she has to defend herself.

Harper: James... what is it that you want from me?
James: Your love.