Arriving in theaters this weekend courtesy of A24 is Men, the latest project from provocative filmmaker Alex Garland. Starring Jessie Buckley and Rory Kinnear, Men is centered around a widower who heads out for a vacation in the English countryside in hopes of getting things back on track, but instead is confronted by an unspeakable evil that appears in the form of several different men, all played by Rory Kinnear.

At a recent press day, Daily Dead had the opportunity to speak with both Alex Garland and Jessie Buckley during a roundtable interview who were there to discuss their collaborative efforts on Men. When it came time to take on the role of her character Harper, Buckley expressed her excitement about exploring someone who was going to be proactive about facing her fears. “I guess in some ways, Harper was somebody who's ultimately choosing life in some shape or form, even if that meant facing the scariest things that she had to kind of come to terms with. But also, this is a horror movie where she's being kind of chased by all these monsters of some sort, but she's also somewhat complicit and that she had agency within that. She wasn't a victim. She was somebody who was actually walking towards that horror instead of running away from it. That’s what I liked about this.” 

When it came time to cast the form of evil in Men that was played by Rory Kinnear, Garland discussed how the actor had caught his attention over the years, saying, “I was just very aware of Rory as I'd been seeing his stuff for a long time. He's what would be called a highly respected actor; lots of people in the industry and lots of other actors are very aware of him and respect him very much. So that often means that they're actors who haven't necessarily become famous but they’ve popped out into the world at large. I think people have been very aware of Rory for a long time.” 

“In general, what I'd say is my favorite thing when making a film is working with actors, especially people who are serious about it and are primarily interested in dropping into the characters and taking on the film as a whole and getting their hands dirty and rolling their sleeves up. And that is Rory, but it's not like a great discovery. Rory's been well known for a long time as being like a top class actor. I was mainly just very pleased that he said yes.”

Because of Kinnear’s reputation and lauded skillset as a performer, Garland knew that Rory was going to be able to rise to the challenge of taking on a multitude of challenging performances throughout Men as well. He explained his decision behind transforming Kinnear into all these different iterations of aggressors who want to terrorize Harper, saying, “You have one character playing all these roles and it's obviously not arbitrary. It's obviously a decision. It's not that all these characters happen to look the same. There's a decision being made. And so one question might be, does Harper see all men as the same because neither Harper nor the film ever remarks on it ever. So it's only the viewer left to remark on it.” 

“So, is it that Harper sees all men as the same whilst they are in fact different or is it that all men are the same and she does not see that? The way I see it is that they're two questions that sound very similar, but have completely different inferences; like very, very different inferences. And I'm personally content to leave it there because that actually is the point of the film is to be irreverent and sometimes use genre conventions, but also be aggressive sometimes and disruptive. I sometimes think of it like a kid shouting out in the street or in class or so or whatever the fuck it is.”

“I think that filmmaking is a broad church,” Garland continued. “Some people would insist that a question like that is given an answer at the end of the film. I would seek to actually avoid doing that because it’s a question of: what's the dream? For me, the dream is that somebody watches this film and does not simply forget about it as they are walking out of the cinema. Films are often weirdly forgettable. And I'm not saying that question is posed in that way in order to make the film memorable but it's more that I want it to stay alive. Not to be remembered as a film, but to be a participant in a conversation, essentially.”

“Personally, I feel like if I'm not being subversive, I'm wasting my time. I'm only interested in being subversive and everywhere. And if you think [Men] is subversive, I'm pleased because I get bored. I get really bored by so much stuff and it always makes me want to disrupt it and subvert it. That's how I keep waking up in the morning,” Alex added.

  • Heather Wixson
    About the Author - Heather Wixson

    Heather A. Wixson was born and raised in the Chicago suburbs, until she followed her dreams and moved to Los Angeles in 2009. A 14-year veteran in the world of horror entertainment journalism, Wixson fell in love with genre films at a very early age, and has spent more than a decade as a writer and supporter of preserving the history of horror and science fiction cinema. Throughout her career, Wixson has contributed to several notable websites, including Fangoria, Dread Central, Terror Tube, and FEARnet, and she currently serves as the Managing Editor for Daily Dead, which has been her home since 2013. She's also written for both Fangoria Magazine & ReMind Magazine, and her latest book project, Monsters, Makeup & Effects: Volume One will be released on October 20, 2021.