8 Best Alex Garland Movies, According To Metacritic

British writer/director Alex Garland’s new film, Men, was released this past weekend and has received a divided critical response and audience reception. The filmmaker has become known for his more cerebral and thought-provoking approach to science fiction and horror genres. Garland initially rose to prominence as a novelist before his debut novel, The Beach, was developed into a feature film starring Leonardo DiCaprio and directed by Danny Boyle.

Although he did not adapt the screenplay for The Beach himself, Garland began to venture into the film industry and would write and produce several projects before stepping into the director’s chair. The following eight films, in which Garland served as writer, producer, director, or a combination of the three, reflect the critical response to Garland’s work by him, according to Metacritic.

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8 Dredd: 60


dredd 2012 pointing a gun

Based on the popular comic strip characters, Dredd is set in a futuristic dystopia in which the title character, a law enforcer played by Karl Urban, aims to take down an all-powerful drug lord (Lena Headey). Written by Garland and directed by Pete Travis, Dredd was filmed using 3-D cameras.

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Dredd‘s Metacritic score indicates a mixed and divided critical response, though the film has a higher audience reception and is often considered a cult classic since its 2012 release. As one reviewer claimed, “This film was the Dredd film fans were waiting for, a faithful adaptation of the Dredd world portrayed within the comics.” Many fans have been clamoring for a sequel for years, though it has yet to be confirmed.


7 sunshine: 64


Robert looks at the sun up close in Sunshine

Garland’s follow-up to 28 Days Later and his second produced screenplay is set in a near-apocalyptic future in which a space mission to save the sun from dying becomes humanity’s only hope for survival. sunshine reunited Garland with frequent collaborator Danny Boyle, who would go on to win an Oscar for Slumdog Millionaire the following year.

sunshine features an ensemble cast including Cillian Murphy, Rose Byrne, Michelle Yeoh, and Chris Evans. Garland once again marries science fiction dystopia with exciting action sequences and an ambitious, epic vision. Still, the film had a divided response. For instance, Metacritic user MattA called sunshine a “beautiful splendor for the eyes” while acknowledging that “this movie is not for everyone.”


6 Men: 66


Garland’s latest movie and his third directorial effort stars recent Academy Award nominee Jessie Buckley as Harper, a woman who arrives at a remote cottage after a tragic incident with her abusive husband. Before long, however, Harper is haunted by nearly every man she comes across in the nearby village, all of whom are portrayed by actor Rory Kinnear.

Menu sits more in the folk horror genre than Garland’s previous films, with surreal and Biblical references throughout. However, like Garland’s other directorial efforts, Menu leaves much to interpretation, and the response to this film has been particularly divisive. Still, Menu is an interesting reflection on masculinity that draws on religious horror, home invasion horror, and in a shocking final act, body horror.


5 Never Let Me Go: 69


Kathy, Ruth, and Tommy sit at a diner table in Never Let Me Go

Alex Garland’s adaptation of Kazuo Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go, directed by Mark Romanek, follows a group of students at a boarding school who learn they are clones trained to give donations to humans before their brief lives come to an end. The film adaptation may not have been as widely praised as the novel was, but the performances of Carey Mulligan, Andrew Garfield, and Keira Knightley were often highlighted in reviews.

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on thesurface, Never Let Me Go represents a departure for Garland, as it does not lean into horror and science fiction genres as much as his other work does. Still, the dystopian elements of the story reflect a common thread with his more cerebral projects. Furthermore, Garland’s background of him as a novelist made him the right writer to faithfully adapt the novel to the screen, since he has an inherently strong understanding of both forms.


4 28 Days Later: 73


Danny Boyle’s bold reinvention of the zombie horror movie began first as a brilliant screenplay from Alex Garland. The film became an instant hit and revitalized the zombie film genre. Starring Cillian Murphy and Naomie Harris, 28 Days Later tells the story of a rapidly spreading infectious disease called “rage” that ravages London.

Boyle appropriately employs a fast-paced energetic filmmaking style that mirrors the unfolding and exploding tension of the subject matter. Dave Edelstein of slate write that 28 Days Later… is both a “zombie flick,” a “cautionary political tale,” and a “human parable.” Although this was only his first produced screenplay of him, the use of genre to find allegorical meaning would become a recurring theme throughout Garland’s film work.


3 Former Machine: 78


Alicia Vikander in Ex Machina

Garland’s directorial debut marked a breakthrough in his career, as Former Machine earned the filmmaker an Academy Award nomination for Best Original Screenplay, while the film itself won the Oscar for Best Visual Effects. ex machine, which holds a Metacritic score of 78, follows a programmer selected by his CEO to perform a test on a highly sophisticated AI named Ava.

Much of Former Machine‘s success is thanks to Alicia Vikander’s captivating performance as Ava as well as Oscar Isaac’s memorable turn as Nathan Bateman (Isaac would reunite with Garland again on Annihilation a few years later). However, Garland himself deserves credit for an inventive screenplay exploring Frankenstein-esque themes of consciousness and humanity, while stepping into the role of director with a sleek and polished confidence.


two 28 Weeks Later: 78


Robert Carlyle in 28 Weeks Later

The surprise success of 28 Weeks Later, the sequel to Garland’s first screenplay, saw Garland stepping into the role of executive producer. Directed by Juan Carlos Fresnadillo, the story picks up when the survivors of the rage virus from the first film are placed into an isolated community by the US army so that repopulation can begin. However, a carrier causes recontamination and a new spread of the deadly virus.

Related: 10 Things That Don’t Make Sense About The 28 Days Later Series

28 Weeks Later grossed more than $65 million worldwide and was filmed with a budget of $15 million. The performances of Jeremy Renner, Rose Byrne, and Idris Elba were all praised by critics and audiences alike. Furthermore, Metacritic user JohnE called the film “bleak, brutal, and grim – just how a good horror movie should be.” 28 Weeks Later serves as yet another example of Garland’s expert grasp of the horror genre in a way that allows for innovative reinvention.




1 Annihilation: 79


Lena stands in profile in the disaster zone in Annihilation

Garland’s most critically acclaimed venture was his follow-up to Former Machine. Annihilation stars Natalie Portman as a biologist who investigates a mysterious zone known as the “shimmer” in order to uncover what happened to her husband after his expedition there.

Clint Worthington of result write that Annihilation is “one of the most arresting, affecting science fiction movies of the last few years.” The film features noteworthy performances from Portman, Jennifer Jason Leigh, and Tessa Thompson. Annihilation is the quintessential Alex Garland film in that it achieves the thrills of a classic horror film while provoking deep psychological thought and analysis, in this case connecting scientific themes of cell division and mutation with the human capacity for and proclivity towards self-destruction.

NEXT: Ranking Alex Garland’s Writing Credits According To Letterboxd

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