It can’t be a coincidence that the title of Alex Garland’s new film spells out the first three letters of ‘menace’. The underlying sense of dread that permeates Men, coming to Cineworld cinemas on 1 June, is condensed to nerve-jarring effect in this new short clip.
It’s in the throbbing, creaking soundtrack. It’s in the blood-red walls and spreading shadows of the ancient house in which Harper Marlowe (the spectacularly versatile Jessie Buckley) is staying. And it’s in the horror spreading across the face of the bereaved protagonist, even before the climactic shock.
With writing credits on zombie horror 28 Days Later (2002) and space opera Sunshine (2007), Alex Garland showcased his unique imagination and his mastery of a slow build of unsettling atmosphere.
His directorial debut, AI thriller Ex Machina (2014), and dreamlike sci-fi follow-up Annihilation (2018) underlined Garland’s distinctive visual flair. They also demonstrated his understanding that the most important – and scary – action plays out inside a character’s mind before manifesting on the screen.
That’s certainly the case with Men, as this effectively creepy and jarring sequence of an unseen presence at the door proves. It's just one of the unsettling moments in this rural horror movie, such as the appearance of a naked man pursuing her from a dank tunnel, or her encounters with the increasingly macabre inhabitants of the village, all bearing an uncanny resemblance to Harper’s dentally challenged new landlord, Geoffrey (Rory Kinnear).
Rest assured, though: despite Kinnear’s multi-role efforts, this is a world away from Kind Hearts And Coronets. Instead Garland uses these concepts and techniques to explore relationships, guilt, judgement – and, of course, horror – to powerful effect.
Click here to book your tickets for Men, opening in Cineworld cinemas from 1 June.