Men is a pretentious British horror movie that thinks its broad swipes at toxic masculinity tap into gendered trauma.
Harper rents a house in the English countryside to recover from a tragic divorce. But the country house of her dreams turns into a nightmare.
The movie opens in an apartment. It’s a rainy day. The intense orange light from the outdoors gives the interiors a tinge of red. Minutes later we see a woman scream at something on the open balcony. After a few cut scenes, the same woman drives to an idyllic English country house. The first thing she does is pick an apple from the tree.
These clues are a part of the many hints that grow increasingly bizarre and creepy. Harper is not only haunted by the memories that drove her there. She’s also being stalked by a naked man who literally shares the same face as all the men in the village.
Each of these men is a variation of her manipulative husband – a kid calls her a bitch for not playing hide and seek, a vicar offers sympathy then gaslights her, and the nice guy tricks her to steal her car.
While these are interesting notes on what an everywoman faces, Men loses track of who this story is supposed to be about.
The movie is supposed to be about gendered trauma and violence against women, but it’s more fascinated with its lineup of douchebags and their escalating violence. We know nothing about Harper and the impact of her experience, other than being chased, assaulted, and get subjected to the ickiest birthing sequence A24 has shown (so far).
For all its vivid cinematography, pagan symbolism, well-crafted atmosphere, and Big Ideas, Men ends as nothing more than a woman trapped in a horror story. I guess it’s far easier to take a jab at stereotypes than explore what happens to a woman at the receiving end of their predatory behavior.
Men is an engrossing eerie British folk horror crippled by its pretentious and shallow perspective on gendered trauma.