First ‘Men’ reviews are divided on Alex Garland’s latest

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Director Alex Garland has given the world Dredd, shown Annihilation, and now has made something which may combine the two to mixed reviews with his folk horror and single-word titled film Men this month.

Reviews for the movie premiering May 20 are emerging online today, and for those who have seen the movie, it is something interesting, but with a few parts which prevent it from being an all-time great. Peter Bradshaw of The Guardian gives it three stars out of five and says actor Rory Kinnear is great as multiple characters, but lead Harper’s (Jessie Buckley) apparent gullibility is a disservice to the atmosphere.

“Why doesn’t Harper notice or comment on the fact that they all look exactly alike? Is it because, numbed by grief, she doesn’t see it? Or are they a sort of dream she is having, a PTSD hallucination caused by the treatment she has received from her partner? Are these men a D’Ascoyne family of misogyny, each villager a symptom of the same patriarchal dysfunction that infects all men, including her partner? Maybe. Her landlord sadly comments that as a seven-year-old, he was told by his father that he exhibited “the character of a failed military man.”

Over at Variety, Peter Debruge expresses a similar sentiment. His analysis says Kinnear is great and impressive in his multiple roles, but the ending goes off the rails in a way that will at least be memorable.

“This grand finale is so far beyond anything American audiences have seen (this side of David Cronenberg, at least) that cult status seems assured. But what it all means is far less certain — not so much ambiguous as unclear — in a high-minded film that has entrusted so much else to our imagination. Now, all of a sudden, Garland goes too far, such that you can’t help feeling, well, manipulated.”

Then, for Siddhant Adlakha at IGN, the piece is only worth a five out of 10. He says in his critique published today there is an overreliance on jump scares when it was initially good at being unsettling, and when things go from the surreal to the serious, it is not as interesting or disturbing to moviegoers.

“Every aesthetic element that initially soars is eventually recontextualized, in service of a story whose abstractions don’t quite work once the scenes around them take a more literal bent. The more ethereal its metaphors become — for instance, the reappearance of Kinnear in different forms — the less that its tangible, slasher-esque chases seem to work, since they become increasingly about slick movement between physical places (and movement in and out of shadows) rather than holding on the phantasmagorical.”

Men currently has an 86 percent positive rating on Rotten Tomatoes based on 29 reviews.