A24’s latest horror offering is Men, the brand-new movie from Ex Machina and Annihilation director Alex Garland.

Men will be released in theaters on May 20 and stars Oscar nominee Jessie BuckleyRory Kinnear and Paapa Essiedu star alongside Buckley. 

The film marks Garland’s first foray into full-blown horror that “coils with mounting pressure, increasing in scares and intensity until it explodes in an insane, jaw-dropping third act that veers into Grand Guignol.

Ahead of the film’s release, Bloody Disgusting participated in a roundtable chat with Garland, where he discussed the surprising influences on his folk horror movie.

It was revealed that the filmmaker completely rewrote a significant horror sequence after watching a popular anime.

Garland explained, “That particular sequence was written as mutations, just as a sequence of mutations. There was a kind of loose thought that because we had had this Green Man character that it would be about seasons. The mutations would come via things like green growth coming out, or, if you have a dead fox and leave a camera on it for a week and then do time-lapse photography, it will decay and change. Maybe we’ll do the mutations like that.”

A24's ‘Men’ Review – Alex Garland Unsettles With Surreal Folk Horror!

Then I got slapped right in the face, creatively, by watching this show Attack on Titan with my daughter, which was taking human forms and making, in some ways, quite subtle changes. Ones that lent, in a way that I like, towards ridiculousness because I think actual ridiculousness is quite an important part of this film; a funny kind of patheticness, silliness in some respects, that sits alongside the horror and the strangeness. It’s important that those two things sit right up against each other. When I saw Attack on Titan, I could see how inventive and creative it was, and it made me think really hard. I spent that Christmas doing loads of sketches of forms, which became that [redacted] sequence.”

When asked if any more conventional genre influences might’ve shaped his folk horror, Garland answered, “Inevitably, there would be. I’ve seen The Wicker Man three times, and I know the film very well. So, that will sort of roll around in the back of my head, even if I’m aware of it or not. But not really. Honestly, I try to avoid making movies about other movies. I’m aware that other movies will filter into the thinking.” 

There’s a shot in Men, which is a first-person running shot towards a house, and even as we were setting up, I thought, ‘Oh yeah, Evil Dead,’ right? So that happens, but I’m not doing knowing nudges and winks towards the audience. It’s more like straight-up influence, which is borderline theft, you could say, or unconscious theft. But I really do avoid doing that. I always think that filmmaking is a broad church. I know many movies are incredibly keen to be referential and knowing to other movies. I get that, and it’s fine, and I’m not criticizing it, but it’s not something I want to do. I’ll make films with an awareness of other films, but I’m trying to make the movie about something not to do with cinema if that makes sense. Something as it were in the real world, I guess. But there are tons of movies in it. I mean, loads. If I stopped to think about it, like that Evil Dead rip-off, there’d be loads, but yeah.”

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