What haunts you will find you.

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Director Alex Garland returns with a new unsettling film for viewers after the likes of sci-fi drama Ex Machina and the unsettling Annihilation.

Garland’s latest film Men follows widowed Harper Marlowe (Jessie Buckley) as she heads on a getaway to heal after a traumatic incident from her past.

Harper comes to stay at a large rural house and is shown around by its owner Geoffrey (Rory Kinnear) before beginning to enjoy her surroundings despite flashing back to her recent horrors.

However, Harper soon becomes increasingly unnerved as she thinks a man has been stalking her since a walk in the woods.

Who is he? What does he want? And can Harper trust what she’s seeing?

Here’s everything you need to know about the ending of the cryptic Men.

**Spoiler warning for Men**

Men ending explained

What happened to James Marlowe?

Jessie Buckley and Paapa Essiedu in Men
Harper (Jessie Buckley) and husband James (Paapa Essiedu) speak in Men A24

We discover through conversations and flashbacks that widow Harper is grappling with the death of her husband James (Paapa Essiedu).

The pair’s fraught marriage imploded towards the end of his life and Harper announced that she was divorcing him.

A furious James threatened to take his own life to blackmail Harper into staying with him but she refused.

Harper messaged a friend commenting that she was afraid of James and he read the message and grew more threatening with her before punching her in the face, knocking her to the kitchen floor.

After Harper ordered him to leave, James went upstairs to the above flat and pushed his way in before falling from the balcony above.

Harper later says that she is unsure whether she really locked eyes with him from her window as he fell down or if she imagined it.

Despite some uncertainty over whether he slipped or took his own life, Harper was traumatised by the incident.

We flashback to Harper going outside to find James’ body with his hand cut in two by the fence railing he fell on and his legs broken.

The death of the abusive James continues to haunt Harper into the present day.

Why do all the village men look the same?

Jessie Buckley and Rory Kinnear in Men
Harper (Jessie Buckley) speaks with a priest (Rory Kinnear) in Men A24

Harper is stalked by a naked man, also played by Rory Kinnear, from a tunnel in the woods and through the countryside before he even follows her to her house and watches through the windows before trying to break in.

Additionally, Harper encounters multiple villagers including a teenage boy and a priest, all played by Rory Kinnear.

All of these men treat Harper with contempt, violence, the threat of sexual assault or negative feeling.

The final sequence sees Harper come under threat from all of them in the house she is staying in - even the awkward but mostly agreeable Geoffrey.

Why do they look the same? The film never comments on the similar appearances and Harper does not recognise - at least not verbally - their matching looks.

It seems the film is either commenting on how all men are the same - a potential danger to women - or at least that is how the traumatised Harper now perceives them.

Alex Garland commented on this (via Den of Geek): “So is it that Harper sees all men as the same whilst they are in fact different, or is it all men are the same and she does not see that? They’re two questions that sound very similar but have completely different inferences.”

Who is the Green Man?

Rory Kinnear in Men
Rory Kinnear as the 'Green Man' in Men A24

The naked man who stalks Harper throughout the film begins to be seen to be transforming into a leaf-covered figure resembling the ‘Green Man’ who is seen carved into the stone of the church she visits.

The Green Man is a legendary figure dating back thousands of years, sometimes associated with paganism and other ancient cultures.

The figure is widely seen as a representation of rebirth or spring.

Despite these origins for the figure, the Green Man is often seen throughout British and other European architecture in Christian churches, as seen in the film.

In the film, the Green Man carvings are shown beside a Sheela na gigs carving - that is a naked figure displaying a vaginal opening with an exaggerated vulva.

The carvings were traditionally seen as grotesques to warn off evil spirits.

The two are shown together consistently and even appear as one figure towards the end when Rory Kinnear’s characters appear to birth each other.

What does the birthing scene mean?

Rory Kinnear in Men
Rory Kinnear in Men A24

The climactic scenes see Harper clash with the shapeshifting Green Man who takes on various male guises but is also seen in his full “leafy” Green Man guise too.

After trying to force his way into the house and having various confrontations with her, Harper leaves the man with a hand-wound and broken leg that mirrors the injuries that James sustained when he died.

The Green Man’s guises then appear to grotesquely and symbolically birth one another through the figure’s own vaginal openings and each figure is weaker and nastier than the last.

After six births, showing Kinnear’s characters in their various guises, Harper is faced with a naked James himself, carrying his old wounds.

James sits down on the sofa and Harper, holding an axe, sits beside him.

Harper asks: “James, what is it you want from me?”

James responds: “Your love.”

It seems that Harper is being confronted by men throughout the ages - from paganism to Christianity (the priest and the 'forbidden fruit' reference from Geoffrey about eating the apples) to the present day - before finally being confronted with an emotionally immature, abusive and threatening modern man - James - but one who is insecure and in need of her love.

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The entire film has - as even explicitly stated throughout - been Harper's attempts to grapple with her horrific experience with James, the nature of his death remaining a terrifying mystery to her.

We do not see how their confrontation ends. Whether she kills him, leaves him or makes peace with him is unknown, but it is significant that we see her alone and happy at the end.

What does the end credits scene mean?

Jessie Buckley sits on steps outside in Men
Jessie Buckley sits on steps outside in the Men end credits scene A24

After the title card ‘MEN’ is shown, we cut back to Harper’s friend Riley (Gayle Rankin) arriving at the house to help her.

We had only seen Harper communicate with the supportive Riley through video calls previously.

We see that Riley is pregnant and she sees the wreckage of Harper’s car - from her apparent confrontation with Geoffrey - and blood on the floors of the grounds and house - indicating that the birthing (or another traumatic event) did indeed occur.

Riley enters the garden and sees Harper seated there covered in blood and they turn and look at each other and smile.

Originally, the scene was set to feature dialogue but Alex Garland chose to cut it.

In a New York Q & A (via Polygon), Garland revealed: “The dialogue felt redundant next to the smile.”

What has Alex Garland said about the ending of Men?

Jessie Buckley stands in front of a dark tunnel in Men
Jessie Buckley stands in front of a dark tunnel in Men A24

Much of the ambiguous yet allegorical film Men, which is about the protagonist Harper grappling with trauma and the dangers of the world around her, won’t be addressed by its creator Alex Garland.

Speaking at that same New York Q&A (via Polygon), Garland added: "I’m trying to lean into something which has to do with the way the audiences interpret, imaginatively engage, with images in the story.

"I particularly wanted to step back, because there’s an element of it where the nature of the way it is interpreted by different people is actually what the film is. So I don’t want to intervene."

So, think it's safe to say, Men just aren't particularly nice in this world!

Men is out now in UK cinemas. While you're waiting, visit our Movies hub for more news and features or find something to watch tonight with our TV Guide.

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