Alex Garland has written and will direct the folk horror thriller Men, set to be released in 2022. Jessie Buckley plays a widow who goes on vacation to a rural village but is disturbed and harassed by the town’s eccentric male residents played by Rory Kinnear.
On May 20th, 2022, A24 released the film in the United States, and on June 1st, 2022, Entertainment Film Distributors distributed it in the United Kingdom.
Its performances were praised, although some viewers had issues with the film’s narrative style.
After her husband, James commits himself, Harper Marlowe resolves to spend the holidays alone in the sleepy town of Cotson.
In flashbacks, we learn that Harper had planned to divorce James because she was fed up with his emotional abuse and deception, which sparked an intense dispute between the two of them, culminating in James’s declaration that he would commit suicide if Harper ever left him.
Harper, unnerved by James’s behavior, leaves the room and tries to text a friend in silence that she feels unsafe. In an unexpected turn of events, James resurfaces, grabs Harper’s phone, and peruses her text messages.
James hurt and angered that Harper would consider herself to be in danger when he’s around, punches her in the face. James starts to apologize right away, but Harper storms out and locks him out of the apartment.
She later finds out that he died after falling over a balcony. Outside Harper’s apartment, she finds James’s body impaled on a metal fence. Harper reaches the grand and stately country estate she’s rented.
She plucks an apple from the tree in the backyard and begins munching on it before walking up to the front door, where she is greeted by the landlord, Geoffrey, a seemingly typical, if slightly weird and old-fashioned, countryman.
After showing her around the place, they have an uncomfortable conversation about Harper’s marital status because she is traveling without her husband while having booked the trip under her married name.
He hands her a hefty key to the house but warns her that villagers rarely use them. Later, while strolling through the woods, she discovers an abandoned railroad tunnel.
Since she discovers that the tunnel creates an echo, she plays around with her voice to make a variety of tones and pitches.
While trying to outrun a figure that suddenly materializes at the tunnel’s far end, Harper realizes that she has become disoriented and is now completely lost in the woods.
Harper climbs a steep embankment to get out of the woods, walks through several abandoned structures, and emerges in a wide open field on the woods’ edge. She returns to snap pictures of the derelict buildings using her mobile device.
When she puts down her phone after snapping the photo, she is startled to discover a bald, naked man peering back at her from amid the abandoned structures. Harper gets back to the estate right away.
Harper sees the naked man, his face covered in bleeding slashes, via her garden window later that day during a video conversation with her friend Riley. Through the glass, he picks an apple from the same tree she had eaten from upon her arrival.
When Harper discovers the front door is ajar, he slams it and locks it, but the nude man reaches his hand through the slot. In a flash, Harper calls the police, and the suspect is taken into custody by an officer who looks suspiciously like Geoffrey.
When Harper reports seeing a man in the woods, a kind female officer assures him that the man is likely homeless and hunting for food and that he may have taken refuge in the abandoned buildings near the woods.
Harper then goes to a church, where he sees the Green Man and Sheela na gig engraved into the font.
After thinking about James’s death, she breaks down in tears. The two people that remind her of Geoffrey the most she sees outside are a small child in a mask and a vicar.
When she respectfully declines the boy’s invitation to play hide and seek with him, he taunts her. The priest dismisses the young man.
She tells the vicar that she is plagued by James’s death and that she is convinced that he looked at her before he fell. Given how rapidly she fell, she finds herself doubting that possibility.
Since Harper wouldn’t let James apologize for punching her, the vicar thinks she bears some responsibility for James’s death. She storms out of the chapel in anger at his dismissive attitude and heads to the local bar that Geoffrey had suggested they visit.
The bar’s few customers and bartender all look like Geoffrey. There’s also Geoffrey present. After first calling Harper “Mrs. Marlowe,” he finally settles on just “Ms.” and insists on buying her a drink.
A little while later, a man who resembles a police officer shows in. With Harper’s disbelief and dismay, the police officer explains that the nude man was released because there was no basis for continuing to hold him.
Since he doesn’t seem to care about her sentiments, she departs the bar. It has begun to become dark outside. There’s a naked man lurking behind a tree in the town cemetery, following her around as she walks.
She tells Riley what happened, and Riley offers to drive to the town the next day so that Harper can keep on with her vacation at the cottage.
Harper is trying to text Riley the address, but her phone keeps cutting off her. When she goes to question the police officer about why he is in her backyard, she witnesses the lights begin to dim and the officer vanishes.
As soon as one of the bar patrons enters, he or she runs straight for Harper, forcing him or her to flee into the nearby house. Before the kitchen window is shattered, Harper grabs a knife to protect herself.
Geoffrey arrives and determines that a crow was responsible for the broken window; he breaks the bird’s neck to put it out of its misery. There’s also a chair that’s been pulled over or pushed over in the kitchen.
When Geoffrey walks into the garden to look for intruders, he, too, vanishes when the lights outside flicker, only to be revealed beside the nude man when the power is restored.
He approaches Harper and blows dandelion ligules at her, causing a trance. She enters the house and locks the door behind her. When he reaches through the front door’s letter slot to grab Harper’s hand, she stabs him in the arm.
He reluctantly frees his arm, and the jammed knife rips his arm in a very painful manner reminiscent of James’s wounds from the accident.
Soon enough, both the youngster and the vicar come stumbling into the house, both of them badly hurt.
When Harper inquires as to the vicar’s identity, the minister responds, “A swan,” and then starts to recite some obscure poetry.
The vicar becomes obsessed with Harper’s sexuality and tries to molest her, but Harper stabs him in the stomach and runs away.
Harper panics after running over Geoffrey while trying to drive away from the scene. We can see that he, like the Green Man, the youngster, and the vicar, has had an arm injury.
Furious, he tosses Harper out of the car, speeds off, comes back, gives chase, and eventually crashes into a stone wall in front of the house.
With his Green Guy transformation complete, the naked man walks up to Harper, his ankle shattered in a way that mirrors the other damage on James’s body.
The naked man gives birth to a little boy, who then gives birth to a vicar, then Geoffrey, and lastly James, all while severely mutilating their bodies. An axe, previously seen beside the fire, is snatched up by Harper.
James and Harper are inside the house, sitting on a sofa together while he continues to blame her for his death. James answers Harper, axe in hand, “I want your love,” when she asks him what he wants from her.
A few hours later, in the morning, Riley shows up at the house, revealing her pregnancy. Riley, shocked by the blood trail heading into the home, discovers Harper seated in the garden, alive and smiling.
After failing in her attempt to flee, Harper is on the verge of giving up hope when the naked guy, now transformed into the Green Man, finally appears. The following is a vivid and gruesome relay of women giving birth to one another.
Samuel is born when the Green Man’s stomach expands and his perineum cracks open, revealing a vagina. After then, the vicar is born via Samuel’s navel. The vicar gives birth through his back to Geoffrey, and Geoffrey gives birth through his mouth to James.
When Harper finally sits down with him, she is emotionally sterile and he seems to have returned from the dead to guilt-trip her again. Harper, feeling exhausted, asks James what he wants from her.
She responds with a mocking “Yeah.” The next morning, a clearly pregnant Riley returns to the scene of the massacre and comes across Harper lounging in the garden.
The men of the hamlet keep reproducing by giving birth to new men all over their bodies, lending credence to the Green Man’s symbolism of fertility.
It makes fun of the biological inability of males to give birth, which leads to the characters giving birth from all over their bodies as a joke at the symbolism’s expense.
If the villagers represent James’s traits, as was suggested earlier, then James’s late birth represents the inverse: he takes on their characteristics in his whole.
Even more so, when these characters are seen as embodiments of attributes, births come to represent what males are capable of reproducing the habits, biases, beliefs, shortcomings, pride, and practices that are passed down from generation to generation as a result of patriarchy’s continued dominance.