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Men ending explained

If you've seen the A24 horror movie Men, we're sure you'll have a few burning questions, so here's our best attempt at breaking down the Men ending

Men ending explained: Jessie Buckley as Harper in Men

What happens in the Men ending? The new horror movie from Alex Garland – the man behind the sci-fi movies Ex Machina and Annihilation – is a mind-bending surrealist nightmare according to our Men review, so you may have a few questions after seeing the film. We certainly did, so we’ve pondered on everything that plays out in that crazy finale to offer you some answers.

Men is the story of Harper (Jessie Buckley), who, after witnessing her husband James (Paapa Essiedu) fall to his death from their apartment building, escapes to the countryside for what she hopes will be a healing and relaxing getaway. Her peaceful retreat is soon threatened by various strange men (all played by Rory Kinnear), who are seemingly on a relentless mission to make Harper suffer.

So, what exactly is going on in the bizarre conclusion of Men? Why are all these men hellbent on torturing Harper? And what on earth does it all mean? If you’ve not seen Men yet, please stop reading now or you will encounter spoilers. Otherwise, read on, and be enlightened by our breakdown of the Men ending.

What does the Men ending mean?

At the very end of the movie, we see Harper sitting on the steps outside. As her friend, Riley, comes to rescue her, Harper smiles, in a typical ‘good for her’ moment. It is unclear whether Harper has killed the new manifestation of James, but regardless, this whole process in the Men ending is symbolic of Harper truly breaking free of James’ hold on her, in life and death.

Before we get to this point though, the long and tortuous finale all begins when the country home Harper is staying in is invaded and the array of evil men in the village encroach on her place of healing. It’s a truly wild chain of events, but we’ll do our best to get to the bottom of what’s going on.

As the naked stalker reaches through the letterbox and holds Harper’s hand, she stabs his arm with a knife, leading to his entire forearm being sliced in two. This gruesome injury is then seen again and again, on the various incarnations of the men tormenting Harper.

Harper then has to deal with the freaky kid, Samuel, who is playing with the dead blackbird in the kitchen. But, it is the vicar in the bathroom she should be truly worried about in this disturbing game of Cluedo. This particular character becomes the most twisted of them all, detailing the sick, sexual fantasies he has been having about Harper.

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Once Harper kills the vicar and flees the country home, she accidentally hits Geoffrey, her previously pleasant landlord with her car. She stops, which is a mistake, and Geoffrey proceeds to steal the car, before driving maniacally in pursuit of Harper, who runs into the holiday home from hell once again.

It’s here that things get really weird. The naked stalker turns up again, with green foliage covering his face, and thorns protruding from his skin. His stomach begins to swell, almost to bursting, before he lays on the floor and gives birth to a grown, infant child. And, if you thought that was strange, the child then gives birth to a new manifestation of the vicar.

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The chain of anatomically-ambiguous pregnancies doesn’t stop there though, as the vicar then gives birth to a new version of Geoffrey, from a wound in his spine. Screaming in agony, Geoffrey then pushes a new body out of his mouth, but this time, it’s James, Harper’s dead husband.

All the while, Harper has been slowly walking away from the unbelievable scenes playing out before her eyes, leading them to the living room. She picks up the axe which is used to cut firewood. Then, James and Harper sit on the sofa, and Harper asks him, “What do you want from me?” James replies, “I just want your love.”

Men ending explained: Jessie Buckley as Harper in Men

This could be perceived as an exploration of the inherent needs and expectations of genders when it comes to relationships. Men expect women to love them unconditionally, to forgive them, and tolerate them, no matter how extreme their actions.

Why do all the men look the same?

The answer, quite simply, is the manifestation of the concept ‘all men are the same’. It’s an old sweeping generalisation on masculinity that basically relates to the idea that men are the more cruel, violent, and untrustworthy of the two genders. Whenever a man does something wrong, the phrase ‘they’re all the same’ is often thrown around, and the film Men is riffing on this.

Throughout the film, we see Rory Kinnear as the face of several different characters; Geoffrey the landlord, the naked stalker, the policeman, the vicar, the barman, a couple of locals in the pub, and even a young boy, Samuel. But why are all these male characters the same?

The link between James and the various incarnations of men in the village is clear in their graphic injuries. When James falls to his death, he slices his forearm in half on an iron gate, and shatters his ankle. The men that attack Harper sustain the exact same injuries.

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All of the men that Harper encounters either try to help her in frustrating and condescending ways, or they threaten to hurt her, or both. These behaviours align perfectly with the way James, who was a possessive, violent husband, treated Harper in their marriage.

If you compare this to the women in the film, Riley, Harper’s best friend, shows nothing but concern for her and desperately wants to save her. Even the policewoman is empathetic to Harper’s fears. This is the complete opposite of her colleague, who shrugs at the idea of the naked stalker being released, and even subtly victim-blames Harper for the stalking.

Men ending explained: Rory Kinnear as Geoffrey in Men

The fact that all the men essentially give birth to one another in the final, harrowing, body horror sequence is an indictment of the pernicious cycle of the many issues with masculinity that are just as prevalent today as they were decades, even centuries, gone by. They look the same, act the same, and nothing ever really changes.

Who is the naked man?

One of the craziest aspects of Men is the naked stalker who acts as the main antagonist in the movie. The meaning behind this character is somewhat ambiguous, but basically, he stems from the mythology of The Green Man, a pagan symbol for the cycle of life, death, and rebirth.

The origins of The Green Man are largely rooted in Celtic legend, but his story reaches far across Europe and beyond, with many different retellings and interpretations dating back to the second century.

Essentially though, the key meaning behind this figure is to signal the intrinsic relationship between men and women. The Green Man is the manifestation of Godhood within men, and symbolic of man’s connection with the female Goddess of life and divinity.

Men ending explained: Rory Kinnear as the naked stalker in Men

How this legend plays into the movie Men though, is most likely as a symbol of change. In the mythology of The Green Man, this being is indicative of the dawn of Spring replacing a long, harsh winter. In this way, the naked man who stalks Harper is more a harbinger of hope than the threat which she perceives him to be.

We first see him as Harper leaves the woods, and it is this encounter that really sparks the feverish nightmare that ensues. It makes sense then that Harper would associate this bizarre figure with the danger she is facing. In reality, he should be viewed as the embodiment of her trauma and grief making way for acceptance and catharsis.

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As the symbol of life, death, and rebirth, The Green Man, and in turn the naked stalker in Men, represent the evolution of mankind and the cyclical nature of our existence. We all go through pain and suffering in our life, but eventually, we find a way to move past this and start again.

We hope our explanation of the various aspects of the Men ending satisfies your curiosity. It’s worth remembering that Alex Garland, the director of the movie, said “people will have their own ideas about what it’s about, or not about, that mean something to them.” And that is the beauty of films like this, we can all take our own subjective interpretations away from the experience.