Men portrays everyday life as a woman as a living horror movie. It’s a highly metaphorical and atmospheric movie, which will undoubtedly turn of many of its viewers, but it’s core story is about the danger, discomfort, and indignities that women endure on a near daily basis dealing with men.

Each of the men that Harper (Jessie Buckley) encounters represents a different facet of creep and manipulative behavior. The seemingly kindly priest, who places his hand on Harper’s thigh to “calm her,” also projects guilt and blame onto Harper for the actions of men. He views her femininity as a corrupting and tempting influence, very akin to Eve.

The little boy, who likes wearing creepy masks, is a brat who refuses to accept no for an answer and turns on a dime into verbal attacks, much like the men of the Internet ready to flip at a moment’s notice. The police officer is dismissive of Harper’s account of being harassed and threatened, representing a legal arm that often downplays and diminishes women as victims.

The only person in town that seems sympathetic to Harper is the one female police officer who takes her statement. Each man is played by Rory Kinnear.

Director Alex Garland is far from past genius displayed in Ex Machina Men. Here, Garland relies on his script’s allegorical nature and that is unlikely to connect with audience members. Its similarity to Darren Aronofsky’s 2017 film Mother will likely yield similar dismal box office numbers. Mother‘s none-too-subtle Biblical allegory at least had a cast of Hollywood heavy weights to draw in viewers.

Metaphor and allegory are best utilized in subtext, and Garland puts allegory ahead of character to poor results. When the film’s third act arrives, it releases any hold on reality as the horror imagery overpowers the senses.

Men is the kind of movie that wears out its welcome quickly, and will struggle to recoup its limited budget at the box office. Main stream audiences will not flock to this picture.

Letter Grade: D

About The Author

Founder, Awards Editor

Byron Burton is the Awards Editor and Chief Critic at Awards Focus and a National Arts and Entertainment Journalism Award winning journalist for his work at The Hollywood Reporter.

Byron is a voting member of the Television Academy, Critics Choice Association, and the Society of Composers & Lyricists (the SCL) for his work on Marvel's X-Men Apocalypse (2016). Working as a journalist and moderator, Byron hosts Emmy and Oscar panels for the major studios, featuring their Below The Line and Above The Line nominees (in partnership with their respective guilds).

Moderating highlights include Ingle Dodd's "Behind the Slate" Screening Series and their "Spotlight Live" event at the American Legion in Hollywood. Byron covered the six person panel for Universal's "NOPE" as well as panels for Hulu's "Pam & Tommy Lee" and "Welcome to Chippendales" and HBO Max's "Barry" and "Euphoria."

For songwriters and composers, Byron is a frequent moderator for panels with the Society of Composers and Lyricists (SCL) as well as The ArcLight's Hitting the High Note Oscar series.

Byron's panels range from FX's Fargo to Netflix's The Crown, The Queen's Gambit, The Witcher & Bridgerton; HBO Max's The Flight Attendant, Hacks, Succession, Insecure, & Lovecraft Country; Amazon Studios' The Legend of Vox Machina, Wild Cat, & Annette; and Apple TV+s Ted Lasso, Bad Sisters, and 5 Days at Memorial.

In February of 2020, Byron organized and hosted the Aiding Australia Initiative; launched to assist in the restoration and rehabilitation of Australia's wildlife (an estimated 3 billion animals killed or maimed and a landmass the size of Syria decimated).

Participating talent for Aiding Australia includes Robert Downey Jr., Michael Keaton, Jeremy Renner, Harrison Ford, Jim Carrey, Josh Brolin, Bryan Cranston, Hugh Jackman, Patrick Stewart, JK Simmons, Tobey Maguire, Alfred Molina, James Franco, Danny Elfman, Tim Burton, Kim Basinger, Robert Wuhl, Tim Allen, Colin Hay, Drew Struzan, and Michael Rosenbaum.

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