Ex Machina Director Says New Film Men Is More

Ex Machina Director Says New Film Men Is More

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Alex Garland, the sci-fi and horror director known for films like Ex Machina and Annihilation, says that his next film, Men, will be more like the latter than the former. Garland's films and his most recent television project, Devs, are infused with his unique style that often center humans dealing with ethical questions in regards to scientific advancements. In Ex Machina, this deals with the advancement of AI technology and whether something so close to human should be treated with the respect and freedom an actual person deserves. In Annihilation, an area of land is rapidly taken over by an unknown force, called the shimmer, that causes scientists to determine if there is a motive behind this changing landscape.

Garland's upcoming film, Men, follows Harper (played by Jessie Buckley) who rents a vacation home in the English countryside as a break from a tumultuous relationship with her husband (played by Paapa Essiedu). The film uses several flashbacks to show Harper and her husband back in London while Harper is reflecting upon the relationship in the isolated countryside. While on her vacation, Harper's time is interrupted by several different male characters who are all played by Rory Kinnear. Garland now tells EW that he believes Men is more similar to Annihilation than any of his previous work due to both films having an "aggressive" style. He says that both films are more about a guttural reaction of how the viewer is feeling in the moment as they are watching them rather than Ex Machina or Devs, which Garland categorizes as more of intellectual works. Annihilation also notably has an all female cast as its leads, and while male characters will appear in Men, the focus is most certainly on Harper herself.

Annihilation also leans much further to the traditional horror genre, as it contains jump scares, and several individual killings until the main character is left. Similarly, Men is poised as a horror film, and from the trailer seems to be the least sci-fi out of all of Garland's previous work. Garland himself describes the film as "a ghost story," noting that although this film, as with Ex Machina and Annihilation, wrestles with central themes regarding toxic masculinity, Men is much more about the relationship with the viewer and how they respond to the material. In Ex Machina and Annihilation, certain scientific failures occur at the hands of men, including an AI creation having to resort to murder in order to be free, and male-led expeditions failing to be able to determine the cause of the shimmer, respectively. Men, however seems to be a film where consequences of toxic masculinity will be placed more directly at the center of the plot rather than as parts of the sci-fi world building. The premise of a woman simply trying to get away for a vacation and perpetually being bothered by strange men certainly seems like a nightmare in itself. Whether Garland stepping out of his comfort zone that usually includes some amount of hard sci-fi elements, and instead focusing on a story that details the horrors of what humans can do to each other will create an even more powerful film is yet to be seen. However, with Buckley leading the way on screen, and with Garland's drive to make films that are still able to provide unforeseen twists and turns for the viewer, Men may be the next A24 horror film that everyone will be talking about when it hits theaters on May 20, 2022.

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