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‘Men’ brings blood-soaked toxic masculinity

CANNES, FRANCE (AFP) – Rising star Jessie Buckley admits she is no horror film junkie, but was happy to take on the wild, gore-splattered Men thanks to its provocative look at issues around toxic masculinity.

Men, which follows Buckley’s Oscar-nominated turn in Netflix hit The Lost Daughter, is the latest from British director Alex Garland.

His back catalogue includes inventive sci-fi dramas such as Ex Machina, Annihilation and Devs, as well as writing credits on The Beach and 28 Days Later.

But his new film, which premiered at the Cannes Film Festival on Sunday, may be his strangest concoction yet.

It sees Buckley trapped in a remote English village, trying to recover from a traumatic relationship only to find herself under siege from several extremely creepy guys – all played by British actor Rory Kinnear. This was not Buckley’s comfort zone.

Jessie Buckley and Alex Garland on the set of ‘Men’. PHOTO: AP

“I’m very squeamish. The last horror film I saw was The Texas Chainsaw Massacre when I was about 10 and that was it for me,” the 32-year-old told AFP in Cannes.

“It wasn’t so much the film, it was the fact that it was a Halloween party and my dad stopped the film midway and drove us all out to the woods. We were terrified!” she said, laughing.

Garland’s film, however, uses horror film tropes in an innovative way to talk about emotional manipulation, male violence and challenges to the patriarchy.

“Alex provoked some very blunt, honest questions that we could investigate together,” Buckley said.

“He’s an intelligent and provocative film-maker and I felt safe exploring this with him.”

Kinnear faced a special acting challenge, and nothing could prepare him for the final sequence which is one of the strangest and goriest conclusions ever put on screen.