Four years after his sci-fi horror feature, “Annihilation,” writer-director Alex Garland took a sharp turn from the realms of science fiction for “Men.” Starring Jessie Buckley and Rory Kinnear in (multiple) lead roles, Garland’s folk-horror feature received a mixed-to-positive response from critics. General audiences, however, didn’t seem to care much for it.
The film follows the recently widowed Harper (Buckley), who rents a country cottage after the sudden death of her abusive husband. The peaceful solitude of the countryside is ripped apart by strange and terrifying encounters with the men of the local village, all played by Kinnear through costuming and digital effects. Garland’s narrative approach to themes of gendered violence is a mixed bag in the eyes of some critics, but it did receive praise for Buckley and Kinnear’s performances as well as its outlandish and unsettling visual direction.
Official production budget figures aren’t readily available for “Men,” but with only $11 million at the worldwide box office, it’s unlikely to have turned a pure profit. The director’s most recent successful feature was 2014’s “Ex Machina,” which landed a much more respectable $35 million from a $15 million budget. Where the film blatantly failed to connect was with general audiences. CinemaScore, a firm that assigns a film a letter grade based on cinema audience poll, returned a painful D+. At Rotten Tomatoes, the audience score sits at 39 percent, contrasting with the 69 percent critic approval rating.