Following on from the success of the low-budget, high-drama cult AI flick, Ex Machina, comes the latest project from Alex Garland, Annihilation.
Starring Natalie Portman and Jennifer Jason Leigh, the film also reunites Garland with Oscar Isaac and Sonoya Mizuno. Finally, Benedict Wong plays Benedict Wong.
The story follows the expedition of four women who are sent into the mysterious “Area X”, a portion of land in the USA that has been secretly quarantined due to abnormal activity. They are the 12th expedition sent into Area X on behalf of the mysterious Southern Reach organization. The second expedition ended in mass suicide, the third in a hail of gunfire as the members turned on one another and the 11th expedition returned as shells of their former selves, all dying of cancer shortly after coming back.
It looks spectacularly creepy in an almost Arrival-meets-Predator kind of way. It’s filled with lots of weird and unusual alien phenomena that give the team of crack scientists pretty good reason to be…terrified beyond belief.
This will be Garland’s second movie at the helm, but unlike Ex Machina, which he also wrote, the source material for Annihilation comes from Jeff VanderMeer’s book of the same name.
Vandermeer was recently a guest on the The Watch podcast, in which Andy Greenwald and Chris Ryan interviewed him about his novel. He offered some tantalizing teases about Garland’s adaptation, also acknowledging that the film will naturally have some departures from the book.
“The first thing I realized is that even though Alex Garland says he’s not an auteur, he is an auteur. So my expectation was to not have anything to do with the movie and that’s the actual fact. He wrote the script and he was kind enough to keep me in the loop during every part of the process, but that wasn’t for me to put my two cents in, basically. It was just so I would know what was going on.”
Talking about the movie, he said “It’s actually more surreal than the novel. There are a couple places where I was like, ‘I might need an anchor here.’ The ending is so mind-blowing and in some ways different from the book that it seems to be the kind of ending that, like 2001 or something like that, people will be talking about around the watercooler for years. Visually, it’s amazing. I must say that and that’s all I probably should say.”
Annihilation gets released on February 23, 2018.