Talk of Annihilation is all over the ‘net today. Based on Jeff VanderMeer’s terrifying eco-horror novel of the same name (the first book in the Southern Reach trilogy) and starring Natalie Portman and Jennifer Jason Leigh, 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.
So here’s a helpful round-up of what critics are saying…
Alex Garland’s new sci-fi film, Annihilation, is great art. It’s also a movie that’s bound to frustrate and infuriate some viewers who believed they were getting a sci-fi action movie and instead got Tessa Thompson sprouting leaves and people getting attacked by a bear with human screams. It’s horrifying, but in a specific way. Annihilation exists largely in the realm of metaphor. It’s meant to put you in the same dreamlike state of the characters, offering explanations for what’s happening, but also never announcing its themes as it tries to weave subtext into the text.
Annihilation is not an easy film to discuss. It’s a movie that will have a different meaning to different viewers who are willing to engage with it. It’s about self-destruction, evolution, biology, co-dependence, and that which scares us the most — that we can no longer trust our own bodies. It’s meant to linger in your mind and haunt your dreams. In this recent wave of sci-fi films, it’s one of the best.
Annihilation is the sort of film that lodges itself in your brain and makes you turn it over and over again as it settles in your bones. That’s exactly what philosophical science fiction ought to do — and with this movie, Garland establishes his place as one of the best sci-fi filmmakers working today.
The film is a strange, gory, baroque and ambitious journey through an otherworldly realm — and for lovers of the bizarre, it’s well worth a watch.
Garland’s creeping pace lulls you on an almost molecular level; he’s made something akin to an end-of-the-world film, but one in which the changes afoot might not be wholly bad, title be damned. You’ll want to open your mind to it, even if that’s the last thing these characters would suggest.
Annihilation is a movie that fills you with a creeping, crawling sense of cosmic dread and will have you squirming in your seat as you watch a team of highly trained scientists venture into a land where biology has gone haywire and the laws of nature are being repealed before our very eyes.
Let us know what you think in the comments below.
Annihilation opens in selected cinemas across the US and on Netflix in the US from today. It’s being released on Netflix internationally on Netflix on March 12th.
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