Enys Men: The BRWC Review

Enys Men: The BRWC Review

Enys Men: The BRWC Review. By Rudie Obias.

The COVID-19 pandemic was an isolating and lonely time for much of the world. With social distancing and face coverings, it was tough to connect with people without fear of getting sick. In fact, during the pandemic, it felt like being trapped on a remote island reliving every day again and again. While that daily routine might be tiresome and monotonous, it was one of the few things that kept some people sane. However, doing the same thing over and over again for days and weeks on end, could cause others to break—if not careful.

In Enys Men, writer and director Mark Jenkin examines what it truly means to be isolated and cut off from the rest of the world. Set in 1973 (and since it’s filmed in 16mm, you might actually mistake it for a movie from the early ‘70s, but it was filmed during the COVID-19 lockdown in 2020) on an uninhabited island off the Cornish coast in the United Kingdom, the experimental horror film follows a wildlife volunteer (Mary Woodvine) who observes the life cycle of a rare indigenous flower. While going through her daily routine of observation, she discovers that the island itself has a dark history, as it slowly and nightmarishly starts taking over her body and her sanity.



Let’s just be straight about it: Enys Men (which is Cornish for Stone Island) is not a conventional horror film. It’s a movie that’s more about atmosphere than bone-crushing and bloody thrills. It’s more of a meditation on routine with hints of historical horror that feels like Jeanne Dielman, 23 Commerce Quay, 1080 Brussels (however, Jenkin’s camera is more dynamic than Akerman’s) meets Picnic at Hanging Rock (Jenkin is more straightforward than Weir). If those movies appeal to you, then you might get something more out of Enys Men. However, if you’re not a fan of slow artsy-fartsy movies, then look elsewhere. No harm. No foul. Make no mistake about it, while Enys Men might be mesmerizing and hypnotic, it’s also very challenging.

Jenkin tells this simple, yet engaging, story with very little dialogue. In fact, there’s maybe 25 lines of dialogue throughout the film’s 91-minute running time. Instead, Jenkin opts to tell the story through his camera with well-framed and considered cinematography, colorful costumes and eye-popping production design, and expert editing. In this way, Enys Men is a purely cinematic story.

Throughout the film, Enys Men has you guessing on what’s really going on in the story—is it reality or is it a dream (or nightmare). While the pace and tone are methodical, the movie doesn’t feel slow itself, but rather it builds and builds and builds to a bizarre, yet satisfying, climax that is sharp and terrifying.

Enys Men isn’t for everyone. However, if you’re willing to meet the movie where it is, then you can come away with a lot of pure craft and artistry with odd imagery that will make a lasting impression on you. Mark Jenkin—as the film’s writer, director, cinematographer, editor, and film composer—does a fantastic job delivering something that’s entirely original and smart that has something to say about what we all just went through without being explicitly a global pandemic. This movie rocks!


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Rudie Obias lives in Brooklyn, New York. He’s a writer and editor who is interested in cinema, pop culture, music, NBA basketball, science fiction, and web culture. His work can be found at IGN, Fandom, TV Guide, Metacritic, Yahoo!, Battleship Pretension, Mashable, Mental Floss, and of course, BRWC.

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