Film Review

Enys Men

todayApril 6, 2023 247

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By – Nick Adrian

For fans of folk-horror, low budget 70s horror movies, experimental film

What makes the majority of horror fiction (stories, books, films, television shows) work is the element of the unknown – the questions that arise, the paranoia, the uncertainty. It adds a level of anxiety in the listener/reader/viewer that isn’t typically accompanied with any other genre of story and it’s what excites horror fans the most. The lack of provided answers generally elevates the horror, for the fear of the unknown is a terrifying trait for all. Mark Jenkin’s most recent folk-horror Enys Men operates in this way – it’s a trip and experience first and foremost, with clear answers and explainable plot points taking a backseat.

In a plot that seems to span months and no time at all simultaneously, Enys Men follows a lone woman on a Cornish island as she studies the growth of a mysterious plant. Her days are incredibly routine, an almost Jeanne Dielman-esque existence as she checks the plants, writes their progress down in a logbook, and leads a quiet, empty life – save for the young girl that occasionally appears in her house and the visions of other forms of life beginning to sprout around her (pun intended). As the woman continues her routine, increasingly strange, almost-inexplicable occurrences plague her to the point of madness.

The term “almost-inexplicable” is used because there are hints of the woman’s past life sprinkled throughout – or perhaps some of it is even her future. Time and logic take a step back in Enys Men and what is left is a puzzle of a film that never attempts to explain or resolve itself. This can be frustrating for some viewers, but for those looking to be challenged and to work their brain, it might be a real treat. Enys Men’s horror doesn’t always come outright (jump scares are few and far between) but rather hides almost in plain sight in the form of dread and uneasiness, ultimately harkening back toward the unknown and unclear – the most horrific thing of all.

 

Now playing at the Sidewalk Cinema.

Written by: Nick Adrian

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