MESSAGE IN THE MOVIES
Harper (Buckley) is a young widow mourning the recent loss of her husband. She decides to book a getaway at a country estate for a private retreat. Little does she know the horrors that await her as she finds herself encountering ...
This film is the latest offering from writer-director Alex Garland, who always brings a distinctive visual style and big ideas to his projects which have included Ex Machina, Annihilation, and the limited television series Devs. The one thing that Alex Garland consistently leaves out are easy interpretations for his films. He has made it quite clear in multiple interviews about Men that he is just bringing 50% to the conversation; the viewer brings the other half. Or – in other words – this movie means whatever you think it means. That’s not necessarily a good thing.
After arriving in the country, Harper takes an apple from a tree and bites into it, only to be teased by the host of the estate that she has eaten forbidden fruit. This is just the first of many derogatory comments that she will have to endure. Most of Harper’s sojourn is filled with occasions in which she is objectified or demeaned by men (mostly played by the great character actor Rory Kinnear).
The movie wants to pass itself off as feminist, but I found it to be offensively misogynistic. The film also piles on religious and pagan imagery primarily connected to fertility and nature, including the Green Man and the unsettling carving known as the Sheela-na-gig. All of this symbolic posturing is simply exploitative, since there are no religious ceremonies or communities depicted in the film.
The abuse Harper receives from this unfriendly village is compounded by the trauma that she brings from her past (which will be revealed through flashbacks).
Fortunately, Harper frequently checks in with her BFF Riley (Gayle Rankin) over Facetime, creating a lifeline that may have to come to her rescue.
Like many recent elevated horror movies, this is a fairly quiet film that moves ever so slowly until it reaches its gruesome and shocking denouement, followed by an enigmatic postscript.
What did we just see? What does it all mean? Who knows? Who cares?
At least the film’s title reminded me of something important.
I will visit the restroom on the way out.
Halo and Pitchfork Rating:
Two halos: Impressive acting, imaginative cinematography and sound design are still not enough to make this anything more than a highfalutin’ head scratcher.
Five pitchforks: Graphic violence and gory images; strong language; full frontal male nudity; obscene sculptures; violent death.
Do you have comments about this movie or movie review? E-mail your comments. (Your name and UM affiliation must be supplied in order for your comments to be posted.)
Rev. Bruce Batchelor-Glader
COMMENTS! Do you have comments about this movie or movie review?
E-mail comments. (Comments will be posted to our web site.)
The East Ohio Conference Office:
located in North Canton, OH,
near Akron-Canton Airport.
8800 Cleveland Ave. NW
North Canton, OH 44720
Local: (330) 499-3972
Toll Free: (800) 831-3972
Fax: (330) 499-3279
Monday through Friday
8:30 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.
© EAST OHIO CONFERENCE. All Rights Reserved.