Enys Men Review

Earlier this year the horror film Skinamarink showed that not all horror movies need to have a psychotic killer or blood splashed everywhere to scare the audience. The use of long takes, establishing shots, and eerie sounds took the viewers on an intense journey that might have raised their anxiety levels. While many applauded this new take on horror movies, others felt that it was not for them. Mark Jenkin’s Enys Men has some of these elements but also feels like it is a mystery that is unraveling before your eyes.

In Enys Men we are introduced to the Volunteer. She is living alone on an island and goes through the same routine every day. It feels like the first half-hour of the movie we are just watching her do the same thing over and over. While on the island she keeps tabs on a flower that is growing by a cliff. The strange thing about the flower is that when she places her hands near it the flower leans toward her hand.

The establishing shots in the movie are gorgeous as we see the landscape of the island. The shots also show us different monuments and locations that the Volunteer visits while surveying the island. Many times during these shots we hear the natural sounds of her walking around and the waves splashing against the island’s walls. The sound distracts you at times from the image in front of you and then the loud noise of a generator being turned on scares you back into paying attention to the movie.

Photo courtesy of Neon

There are many moments like this in the movie, where the eerie music fools you into a sense of calm, and then a loud sound will make you jump out of your seat. One of the everyday things the Volunteer does is drop a rock down a cave. There is a ladder leading out of the cave but we never see her go down the ladder. Every time she drops the rock down the cave there is a sense of anxiety that hits you while waiting to hear the rock hit the floor of the cave. Yes, this moment plays over a few times in the movie and each time the anticipation of a sound has you sitting on the edge of your seat.

The Volunteer, played by Mary Woodvine, does a great job of presenting the loneliness that one feels while living alone on the island. There is also a pain in her eyes that makes you wonder how long she has been here on this island. The Volunteer, at times, sees a young lady on the island. This young lady lives in the same house as her but is only shown a few times throughout the movie. I mentioned earlier that this movie feels like a mystery and that is because we never know what happened to the young lady. We do see an imageof her falling off the roof of the house on the island but this is never explained.

Photo courtesy of Neon

Throughout the movie, the music playing in the background helps to build the uneasiness of living on this island. If feels that as the stranger the music gets the more into madness she is going. Enys Men has a slow build and really takes the viewer through a strange journey. Along with visions on the young lady there is chatter over the CB raido she has on her desk. Deep in the movie we are introduced to the Boatman, Edward Rowe, who drops off supplies to the Volunteer and in a flashback image seem like he had a relationship with her.

The final payoff in the movie doesn’t really feel like the ending that was being built up. There is a lot of imagery of men living in the caves below, a body floating in the water and a priest holding a baby. It feels that somewhere through the viewing of the movie these would all make sense but like the island, the film is messing with our minds. Enys Men is one bizarre ride and is a folk horror movie that might only attact those that the island calls to.

Final Thoughts: Enys Men is one bizarre ride. The isolation of being on an island on your own can mess with anyone’s mind. Throughout the movie, we are questioning if we are witnessing the Volunteer’s descent into madness or being provided clues as to what has happened to her on the island. The slow pace may not be for all but it is an interesting journey into madness.

Kid-Friendly: No. This film is very slow-paced and might not hold the attention of children. The movie’s monotonous routine might be boring to younger kids and maybe not for teens.

Violence: There is no violence in the movie but there are some disturbing images.

A wildlife volunteer on an uninhabited island off the British coast descends into a terrifying madness that challenges her grip on reality and pushes her into a living nightmare. Evoking the feeling of discovering a reel of never-before-seen celluloid unspooling in a haunted movie palace, this provocative and masterful vision of horror asserts Mark Jenkin as one of the U.K.’s most exciting and singular filmmakers.

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