“What is it that you want from me?”Harper
Alex Garland’s latest film crafts impeccably tense atmosphere in an isolated English village, with its unusually verdant palette of bold greens and blacks distinguishing it visually from the horror pack. Jessie Buckley plays Harper, a woman escaping to the countryside after a personal tragedy, but finds herself being harassed by a stranger. Whilst it begins with the unease of being alone in an unknown place, particularly as a woman, as the title suggests Garland uses this to examine the female experience of being subjected to various demands of men: to stay with them, to entertain them, to take advice from them or to fear them. Men’s subject matter is primed for a post #MeToo world, though its metaphor becomes rather blunt by the end, like a priest who overtly blames Harper for his own thoughts. Rory Kinnear is astounding in a role that requires considerable range, whilst Jessie Buckley’s performance captures the caged need to scream as a release, a parallel to Anya Taylor-Joy’s role in The Menu depicting female anger precipitating in an outburst rather than the common depiction of subdued silence. Men succeeds more on atmosphere than depth, and its grotesque conclusion may not be to all tastes, but it is frequently thrilling nonetheless.