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Mark Jenkin’s Bizarre Horror Debut, Enys Men

March 25th, 2023Mark Jenkin’s Bizarre Horror Debut, Enys Men

ENYS MEN opens March 31st

While 2022 was a very strong year for the horror genre, the 2023 horror movies that have released so far have suggested that our current year is just as – if not more – exceptional than the last. The key to the success of many of this year’s thrillers so far – such as SKINAMARINK, THE OUTWATERS, or Brandon Cronenberg’s INFINITY POOL – is a strikingly ambitious approach to the visual style that results in a unrelentingly unnerving tone and a truly unique experience. We have a good feeling that the next film to achieve this sort of reaction will be ENYS MEN, which has been recognized as an AMC Thrills & Chills selection.

The film – the title of which is pronounced “ennis mane” and is translated to “Stone Island” from Cornish, according to Cornwall Live – is the latest release from writer and director Mark Jenkin and his first foray into horror. From what we know about the plot, what we have seen from the trailer, and what we have heard the BAFTA-winning filmmaker say about it in interviews, this hidden gem appears to be just what horror fans who are craving a new, experimental vision are looking for. Before you reserve your tickets to see it when it comes to AMC Theatres on Friday, March 31st, the following is a taste of what bizarre and terrifying sights there are to anticipate from ENYS MEN – starting with what it is about.

Enys Men Is A Lonely, Surreal Folk Horror Tale

As the English translation of the title suggests, ENYS MEN takes place on a “stone island” off the British coast in 1973. The only inhabitant – or so she initially believes – is an unnamed wildlife volunteer, played by Jenkin’s frequent collaborator and real-life romantic partner, Mary Woodvine, who spends each day observing the growing process of a rare plant. However, she soon begins to suffer from a series of disturbing visions that lead her to question her sanity.

Just by watching the trailer, it is easy to tell that ENYS MEN – which screened at the Cannes Film Festival in 2022 – is a very strange trip dealing with themes of loneliness from the perspective of Woodvine’s character, but perhaps even more rooted beneath its surreal aesthetic, as reviews of the movie have suggested. The film earned comparisons to THE SHINING and DON’T LOOK NOW from The Times critic Kevin Maher, and has been praised for its rich symbolism and dream-like visuals by reviewers like The Independent’s Clarisse Loughrey.

Why Mark Jenkin Is Attempting Horror

As established, Mark Jenkin had never made a horror movie before ENYS MEN – a fact that, in some cases, could make some admirers of the genre feel weary. However, his stunning track record so far – which includes winning a BAFTA for his 2019 breakthrough film, BAIT, which also features Woodvine among the cast – gives us all the more reason to be excited for the thriller.

In fact, as he mentions in an interview with The Guardian, it was the reaction to BAIT – a crime drama that some audiences felt teetered toward horror throughout — which inspired him to give the genre a real shot. However, he would do so with a goal to avoid anything that feels too familiar or, quite frankly, safe. He goes on to say,

“I’ve never liked horror films that start at the beginning, mess people up with slasher moments or jump cuts and then take them back to the beginning and safety. I like films that take you into the woods… then they leave you there.”

An Old Fashioned Visual Style

ENYS MEN not only appears to be a departure from conventional storytelling in horror movies with its symbolic themes and unusual narrative, but also in its aesthetic. In addition to being set in 1973, the movie boasts an authentically vintage feel and grainy texture, having been shot on a 16mm camera by Jenkin himself, according Kodak.com.

The approach to the cinematography – a style that Jenkin has become well-known for, but is certainly unique by modern standards of cinema – has earned ENYS MEN praises for elevating the film’s eerie, surreal tone. One on hand, the result – as an analysis of the movie by the British Film Institute points out – “offers a sensorial immersion into the textures, shapes and colours of the place,” but also, based on Andrew Murray’s review of the film for The Upcoming, invokes the feeling that you are seeing something not meant to be seen.

Based on other things that have been said about the film, it sounds as if ENYS MEN may leave some viewers a bit perplexed. If that is the kind of reaction you hope for when you see an AMC Thrills & Chills selection, then be sure to check out Mark Jenkin's horror debut when it comes to an AMC Theatres location near you.

ENYS MEN opens March 31st

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