Annihilation is a science fiction thriller about genetic biologist, Lena (Natalie Portman), who, joined by four others is sent into Area X. An unknown shimmer like force field that is slowly growing and engulfing more of the area around it. Twelve groups, mostly military, have been sent in before and nothing has ever returned, except for one, her husband played by Oscar Isaac. Immediately upon return he becomes very ill, violently coughing up blood, having no recollection of where he had been the last twelve months and is rushed to the hospital, here they are intercepted by a top secret swat like team, this is where Lena begins to learn what husband had really gone into. Here she volunteers to join four other women, mostly scientists, to trek into the unknown “Shimmer”. A land filled with unexplainable genetic phenomenons plants grown in the shape of humans, a crocodile with shark teeth and so much more.
The visual effects are absolutely beautiful, from the blaring lights, to the transformations of humans, and especially the monster like half breed creatures that stalk, and terrify both the characters, and viewers. Annihilation is not only a thought provoking sci-fi epic, but it is also a edge of your seat slasher like thriller. A film geared to make you question your placement in humanity as creations of the unknown, that is chilling to the bone. Paired with a score by Brian Salisbury and Geoff Barrow that is powerful, eerie, and overpowering your every thought.
Writer and director Alex Garland (Ex Machina) is blessed with a fantastic cast. Portman leads this crew portraying each moment of insanity, wonder, and terror perfectly. Lenas portrayal could not have been better by anyone else, the deep, perplexing emotions are perfectly portrayed throughout every scene. Isaac, an underrated actor who perfectly pairs with Portman in the many flashback scenes as her husband who she once thought to be dead blesses each scene with his charm and piercing eyes. Perhaps the biggest surprise is Gina Rodriguez, one of the women who joins Lena into the Shimmer who slowly goes mad as the mysteries of this unknown land unravel.
The brainy, slasher like presence that Garland has brought to the screen before is clearly present in this film. If you have liked other projects of his like 28 Days Later, Sunshine, and Ex Machina, then you will undoubtedly love this visual masterpiece of storytelling.
Garlands rendition of annihilation based on Jeff Vandemeer’s book, is a masterful entrance into humanity, and emotion. Although not accurate to the storytelling of its source material Annihilation is still a beautiful piece of art that I don’t think I will stop thinking about for years to come. The pure terror brought to life simply from the unknown is riveting, jaw-dropping, and an absolute mind fuck. Its movies like this that make me realize why I fell in love with cinema and why I write these reviews.