Annihilation – USA, 2017 – reviews

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‘Fear what’s inside’

Annihilation is a 2017 science fantasy action horror feature film written for the screen and directed by Alex Garland (Ex Machina; writer of Dredd; 28 Weeks Later; Sunshine) based on the book of the same name by Jeff VanderMeer.

Annihilation was released theatrically in the US and China on February 23, 2018, by Paramount Pictures, and via Netflix internationally.


Area X has been cut off from the rest of the continent for decades. Nature has reclaimed the last vestiges of human civilisation.

The first expedition returned with reports of a pristine, Edenic landscape; the second expedition ended in mass suicide; the third expedition in a hail of gunfire as its members turned on one another.

The members of the eleventh expedition returned as shadows of their former selves, and within weeks, all had died of cancer. This is the twelfth expedition.

The group is made up of four women: an anthropologist; a surveyor; a psychologist, the de facto leader; and our narrator, a biologist. Their mission is to map the terrain, record all observations of their surroundings and of one another, and, above all, avoid being contaminated by Area X itself.

They arrive expecting the unexpected, and Area X delivers―they discover a massive topographic anomaly and life forms that surpass understanding…

Reviews [click links to read more]:

Annihilation is an open-ended film, one that allows us to map onto it many meanings, philosophical and emotional […] Annihilation shows us that it isn’t just hard to be human, it’s strange and terrifying and beautiful. Garland offers no easy answers with his vision, only a vivid dream that lingers long after waking.” Birth. Movies. Death.

“Filled with stunning practical effects and thematically-layered scientific and philosophical notions on what it means to be human within our universe, Annihilation is intellectually and visually one of the most well-crafted films of the year.” Horror News

“Profundity arrives more from the visual immersion than any necessarily originality in idea […] But rare is the studio picture allowed to be this abstruse, and engaged viewers will leave with plenty to consider while they decompress over a hypnotic closing credit sequence.” Screen Anarchy

“Ultimately, Garland cops out and what started as a fascinating science fiction like Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey, pregnant with possibilities, plays out as Friday the 13th meets Predator, where Dutch is a Final Girl with a Ph.D. and Jason Voorhees is a blooming fungus.” Cinemalogue

Cast and characters:

  • Natalie Portman as Lena, the biologist – Black Swan; V for Vendetta; Mars Attacks!
  • Jennifer Jason Leigh as the psychologist, the leader of the group – Amityville: The Awakening; MorganSingle White Female; eXistenZ; Buried AliveHeart of Midnight; The Hitcher; Eyes of a Stranger
  • Gina Rodriguez as Anya Thorensen, the anthropologist
  • Tessa Thompson as the surveyor – When a Stranger Calls (2006)
  • Tuva Novotny as the linguist
  • Oscar Isaac as Lena’s husband
  • David Gyasi
  • Sonoya Mizuno
  • Benedict Wong

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