Birthday shout out to one of our fav novelists and directors Alex Garland who celebrates his 52nd year around the sun today. Popping up on the cultural radar back in the late 90s with The Beach, Garland has since gone on to be considered one of the key voices of Generation X.
Garland is a big fan of the classics, and it’s something that he has seamlessly threaded through his works. His screenplays of the films 28 Days Later (2002), Sunshine (2007), Never Let Me Go (2010), and Dredd (2012) have ensured that classics like The Triffids, and the Resident Evil game series – which he credits the game for revitalising the vampire genre – are well and truly embedded in our consciousness.
In 2014, Garland made his directorial debut with the phenomenally brilliant Ex Machina, a science fiction/thriller film that explores the relationship between man and artificial intelligence; earning him an Academy Award nomination for Best Original Screenplay.
His latest film Men, produced by our fav production crew A24, is a classic folk horror in the making. Men follows the story of Harper Marlow (Jessie Buckley), a young widow – a nice nod to the classics – who after the death of her husband decides to vacation alone in the small village of Coston. Flashbacks show what their marriage was really like – giving the audience ample information and insight into Marlow’s current mood.
In classic thriller/horror style, Marlow spends a good part of the film, on the run and traversing through ‘Men’ landmines of every description. This is where the story has been called ‘contentious’ in its telling. Gender issues are not the easiest subject matter on any given day, but if anyone knows how to set the tone for a girl vs man horror, with the girl winning vibe like Halloween, or not winning like Thomas Hardy’s unforgettable Tess it’s Garland.
alex garland making men (on behalf of all men) pic.twitter.com/WulEKXniDb
— Jackie (@jacdeswilliams) May 20, 2022
Garland intends to provoke, by highlighting the underlying micro-aggressions of the male characters throughout Marlow’s journey. Raising the question of where we are at with the fundamental imbalance between men and women. It has already seen some mixed reviews, with critics calling it a failed attempt at feminism, Christy Lemire says “There are moments in “Men” that will cause your breath to quicken and your heart to pound. Still, others will leave you scratching your head and stifling laughter. Whatever your reaction is to the latest meticulously made mind warp from writer/director Alex Garland, it won’t be indifference.”
Either way, Garland’s work certainly keeps the conversation going, whether or not he did or didn’t nail the gender issue angle, I’ll leave that up to you.