Enys Men (2023) Review – A Haunting Exploration of Existential Dread



Directed by Mark Jenkin

Starring Mary Woodvine, Edward Rowe, Flo Crowe, and John Woodvine

Enys Men” (2023) is a haunting and enigmatic masterpiece of folk horror that takes viewers on a psychological journey into the depths of existential dread. Directed by the immensely talented Mark Jenkin, this British experimental film is a visual and emotional tour de force that challenges the boundaries of cinematic storytelling.


Plot and Atmosphere: A Surreal Nightmare Unfolds

Set against the backdrop of a desolate, uninhabited island off the Cornish coast in 1973, “Enys Men” immerses its audience in an eerie and disorienting world. The story follows a wildlife volunteer (Mary Woodvine) who becomes obsessed with observing a rare flower on the island. What begins as a seemingly ordinary task quickly transforms into a surreal and nightmarish experience.

Jenkin masterfully weaves together elements of folklore, metaphysical exploration, and psychological horror. The film’s atmosphere is thick with tension, and every frame oozes a sense of foreboding. The viewer is constantly kept off balance, never quite sure what is real and what is a hallucination. This disorienting quality serves to intensify the film’s overall impact.

Performances: Sublime and Multilayered

The performances in “Enys Men” are nothing short of sublime. Mary Woodvine delivers a mesmerizing portrayal of the Volunteer, a character trapped in a nightmarish loop of isolation and existential questioning. Her nuanced performance captures the character’s descent into madness and the emotional turmoil that accompanies it.

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Edward Rowe as The Boatman, Flo Crowe as The Girl, and John Woodvine as The Preacher all contribute to the film’s atmospheric richness. Each actor brings a sense of mystery and complexity to their roles, adding layers of intrigue to the narrative.


Visuals and Sound: A Visual Feast with Retro Charm

One of the standout features of “Enys Men” is its visual and auditory craftsmanship. Shot on 16mm film, the movie exudes a timeless and almost dreamlike quality. The use of practical effects and minimalistic cinematography adds to the film’s retro charm, reminiscent of classic horror cinema.

The hauntingly abstract visuals are complemented by a haunting score that perfectly underscores the film’s sense of impending doom. The combination of striking imagery and an evocative soundtrack creates an immersive experience that lingers in the mind long after the credits roll.

Themes and Symbolism: A Journey into the Unknown

Enys Men” is not a film that provides easy answers. Instead, it invites viewers to engage with its thematic complexity. It explores themes of isolation, the passage of time, the blurring of reality and illusion, and the human longing for connection. The standing stone, the mysterious girl, and the ghostly miners all serve as symbolic elements that invite interpretation and contemplation.

Conclusion: A Mind-Bending Cinematic Triumph

In “Enys Men” (2023), Mark Jenkin has crafted a mind-bending cinematic triumph that pushes the boundaries of folk horror and experimental storytelling. It’s a film that challenges the audience to grapple with its enigmatic narrative and haunting atmosphere. Mary Woodvine‘s performance is a tour de force, and the film’s retro aesthetic and evocative sound design make it an unforgettable cinematic experience.

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Enys Men” is not a film for passive viewing; it demands engagement and interpretation. It’s a journey into the unknown, an exploration of the human psyche, and a testament to the power of cinema to immerse us in the depths of existential questioning. For those who appreciate thought-provoking, atmospheric cinema, “Enys Men” is a must-see and a haunting masterpiece that will continue to haunt your thoughts long after you leave the theater.

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