A widow (Jessie Buckley) heads for a recuperative holiday in the English countryside, and soon finds that being a woman isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.
The culmination of a wave of increasingly stupid and pretentious horror films, Men combines the folk nonsense of Lamb, the mindless repetition of Mother! and the accidental racism of Last Night in Soho. Like Midsommar it alternates between flashbacks to our heroine’s domestic trauma and her ill-advised getaway where some (extremely self-conscious) weirdness happens – in this case Rory Kinnear wearing a series of ludicrous disguises. This conceit quickly proves more James McAvoy than Peter Sellers, not least because one of them is a child with Kinnear’s face awkwardly superimposed; an effect that rivals Lamb for shear stewepidity.
From the opening reveal that all the men are the same, the film’s entire trajectory is insultingly obvious to everyone except the protagonist. She never questions why all these people have the same face or bothers trying to leave, even being persuaded by her best friend to stay in this Being Rory Kinnear Airbnb. For all its efforts to dress up the high concept with random symbolism (forbidden fruit, pagan statues, dead animals), Men is entirely devoid of subtext. Writer/director Alex Garland tries (so very hard) to do for men what Get Out did for white people – and while Get Out was light on allegory itself, it had a wit and authenticity completely missing here.
Even on a technical level Men is flaccid, waving around its bad CGI and droning music in desperate attempts to be weird that ultimately numb you to the (inadvertently hilarious) body-horror climax. What is strange is that Ex Machina was so tightly plotted and well thought out, suggesting Garland thinks horror needs no such focus; an attitude sadly indicative of this trend, whatever you call the opposite of a Golden Age of horror. These movies are only “elevated” insofar as they are held aloft. Prevenge has more nuance, narrative and character than 100 Rorys Kinnear.