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If you were walking alone through the woods and came across an abandoned train tunnel, would you go inside?
There is an obvious answer in Alex Garland’s psychological horror film Men.
The film (now in theatres) stars Jessie Buckley as Harper, a woman who has retreated to the English countryside to cope with the recent death of her husband. In this scene she was on a peaceful walk and comes across a railway tunnel. She actually walks in, triggering some surprising and haunting moments.
“I was just trying to create a longer sequence with just one person where essentially no one is talking because she’s alone and just enjoying the space,” Garland said, “and then just let the room come at her.”
In the tunnel, Harper realizes the acoustics are great and sings a few notes that echo. She sings more notes and realizes that she can create harmonies and a kind of song in the tunnel.
Garland recalled that the script didn’t go into much detail (“It said she makes an echo and the echo is a really good echo”) and that he worried about how he was going to execute the sequence. The idea of having Buckley sing notes that would create a melody came about while he was driving to the set.
He said that in his film shoots he likes to try to “keep alive possibilities of not having things set in stone”.
“It’s a pretty easy thing to direct because there’s so much fear of a tag because there’s a lot of logistics and the actors have stuff set up and gaffers have stuff set up and there’s lighting equipment and catering trucks and all sorts of things Things. not to be fluent but to stick to the agreed plan. But within reason, I try not to do that. I try to stay light on my feet.”