‘Fear what’s inside’
Annihilation is a 2018 science fantasy action horror 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.
The movie stars Natalie Portman (Black Swan; V for Vendetta; Mars Attacks!), Jennifer Jason Leigh (Amityville: The Awakening; Morgan; Single White Female; eXistenZ; Buried Alive; Heart of Midnight; The Hitcher; Eyes of a Stranger), Gina Rodriguez and Tessa Thompson (When a Stranger Calls 2006).
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…
“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.
“Engaging, accomplished actresses including Portman, Jennifer Jason Leigh, and Tessa Thompson chew on wordy ideas that sound meaningful out of the mouth. Once they hit the audience’s ears, the appearance of introspective intellectualism evaporates from the realization that import rings hollow. “Annihilation” seemingly has so much to say, yet little of it resonates with philosophy mirroring onscreen action.” Culture Crypt
“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 PhD and Jason Voorhees is a blooming fungus.” Cinemalogue
Annihilation was released theatrically in the US and China on February 23, 2018, by Paramount Pictures, and via Netflix internationally.
Cast and characters:
Natalie Portman … Lena
Benedict Wong … Lomax
Sonoya Mizuno … Humanoid & Katie (Med Student)
David Gyasi … Daniel
Oscar Isaac … Kane
John Schwab … Paramedic
Jennifer Jason Leigh … Dr Ventress
Gina Rodriguez … Anya Thorensen
Tuva Novotny … Cass Sheppard
Tessa Thompson … Josie Radek
Sammy Hayman … Mayer
Josh Danford … Shelley
Kristen McGarrity … Lena Double