Enys Men (2022) (2022)
June 15, 2023 7:24 AM - Subscribe

Set in 1973 on an uninhabited island off the Cornish coast, a wildlife volunteer's daily observations of a rare flower turn into a metaphysical journey that forces her as well as the viewer to question what is real and what is nightmare.
posted by quatsch (9 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
To be reductive, this kind of felt like Skinamarink for the Wicker Man set in that it was almost all vibes. But they were vibes I loved, so yeehaw! Lots of dream/nightmare logic, but filtered through the perspective of a middle-aged woman instead of a child as in Skinamarink. The setting was gorgeous and I loved looking at this movie, even when it felt more like an art installation than a narrative experience.
posted by quatsch at 7:30 AM on June 15, 2023 [2 favorites]

Amazing film, so haunting... perfect fusion of sound and image, you can almost feel the cold and smell the salt air. Jenkin's first feature Bait is also excellent.
posted by remembrancer at 7:59 AM on June 15, 2023

Nice, I loved this.
posted by Literaryhero at 5:01 PM on June 15, 2023

Bob Fischer's interview with the director, Mark Jenkins, for the Fortean Times.

To be reductive, this kind of felt like Skinamarink for the Wicker Man set in that it was almost all vibes

Funny how in a lot of reviews I've read people struggle to describe this film. From the Guardian's review:
Film-maker Mark Jenkin originally intended to brand his superbly haunting follow-up to Bait (2019) as “a lost Cornish folk horror” film. He was persuaded to drop most of those descriptions: Enys Men isn’t lost (although it does feel like a recently unearthed magical relic from another era); it isn’t really horror (despite that ultra-creepy trailer); and the word “folk” is oddly misleading. That left “a Cornish film” – a simple phrase that perfectly encapsulates the myriad mysteries soaked into the dreamy, tactile landscape of this handmade gem. I could tell you that Enys Men (which means Stone Island) is Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House as reimagined by the ghost of Nic Roeg; that it’s the cult 70s TV frightener The Stone Tape reconfigured through the inspirational prism of playwright and environmental activist Nick Darke; or that it owes more to the Japanese chiller Onibaba than to the “unholy trinity” of British folk-horror (Witchfinder General, The Blood on Satan’s Claw and The Wicker Man). But the more I think about it, the more “a Cornish film” says it all.
posted by Ashwagandha at 6:51 AM on June 19, 2023 [3 favorites]

I really liked this. It's funny, but I wonder if I would have liked it as much if I hadn't spent a lot of the film thinking "this is what Skinamarink was trying, but failing, to do" in the back of my head. It's not really fair to either film to compare them like this, but I really did feel like Skinamarink was a failure and this movie demonstrated how it could have worked, or at least worked better.

One big part of that was establishing a rhythm early on in Enys Men that could then be deviated from in interesting ways, like a musical performance: checking the flowers, dropping the stone, making tea, the radio... By contrast Skinimararink was just one long, mushed-together drum solo, there was no refrain to come back to. The films are both visually repetitive, but the images Enys Men repeated were interesting and often beautiful, as opposed to Skinamarink's succession of "world's creepiest doorjambs." And despite having very little dialog, Enys Men managed to convey a lot of characterization for its protagonist.

Anyways. Skinamarink aside, this was a really interesting little enigma. I'm looking forward to checking out some of the films Mark Jenkins cites as influences in the interview Ashwagandha linked above.
posted by whir at 6:48 AM on July 5, 2023

I think Enys Men and Skinamarink are apples and oranges in my mind - its not fair to compare them really. As he mentions in the Fortean Times interview, Jenkins' influences are Penda's Fen and Stone Tape particularly (critical texts of the Britain's so-called Haunted Generation) and several of the Ghost Story at Christmas films (Warning to the Curious (1972), The Signalman (1976) and Stigma (1977) particularly). For me the film also echoes British folk horror adjacent films that use documentary style filmmaking in a fictional like Akenfield, Requiem for a Village, Winstanley and to a lesser extent Patrick Keiller's films. Enys Men plays with horror elements but isn't really a horror film - it feels more a film about grief (both in a personal sense and a collective one or perhaps a grieving of a place). Skinamarink totally embraces the genre and only differs from other contemporary horror films in its execution and its art film aesthetic - so-called "elevated horror" (as Jason Adams points out in his Mashable article). It seems totally fear driven.

Maybe there's more in common then I think and I'm totally wrong - the two speak with each other in this Letterboxd podcast. Both are interesting works though aesthetically Enys Men is more appealing to me.
posted by Ashwagandha at 9:57 AM on July 5, 2023 [1 favorite]

Oh, awesome, thanks for the interview link.
posted by whir at 2:33 PM on July 5, 2023

Yet another viewer who really liked this (and hated Skinamarink), so thank you for this post. Really liked the imagery and aesthetic.

The interview linked above was the perfect supplementary reading - some interesting ideas about what it could mean, without anything definite.
posted by umber vowel at 9:29 AM on July 6, 2023

There is no reason for me to add anything, since quatsch said exactly what I would have said anyway.

Except maybe this: well said, quatsch.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 10:23 AM on January 9 [1 favorite]

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