Starring: Natalie Portman, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Tessa Thompson
Director: Alex Garland
Running Time: 115 mins
Annihilation is an American/British film about a group of scientists who venture into a mysterious quarantined zone that contains mutating landscapes, bizarre creatures and unprecedented dangers after being hit by an asteroid.
If you’re looking for a tense, unsettling and powerfully atmospheric sci-fi complete with stunning visuals, enthralling drama and mind-blowing thrills, then look no further than Annihilation. With his signature style, director Alex Garland creates an absolute masterpiece with this film, providing not only a visually beautiful sci-fi, but also a film with such ingenuity, and such an affecting atmosphere that your eyes will be glued to the screen at every moment.
There’s so much about this movie that will send shivers down your spine, but the majority of that can be attributed to just how powerful an atmosphere is created throughout every single moment. Much like his previous work Ex Machina, Garland is able to craft a both elegant yet powerfully unsettling vibe around the entire film, and in tandem with the film’s jaw-dropping visuals, there’s something so affecting about the film that you can’t get away from at any point, pulling you further and further into the bizarre and mysterious world being created before your very eyes.
What’s even more impressive is how the film manages to combine various genres in a both innovative and cohesive manner. Its sci-fi elements take centre stage throughout, but alongside that, there’s a distinctive haunted house-style vibe surrounding the scientists’ journey into ‘The Shimmer’, creating great tension that far surpasses typical horror movies, and makes for an even more thrilling watch throughout, as you feel deeply unsettled by the potential for danger in this new world alongside the wonders and marvels that have been created.
And then on top of that, the film does a brilliant job of being an engrossing character-based drama as well. Although not all of the main group of five are as interesting as one another, Natalie Portman’s character is indeed a riveting lead, bringing emotional depth to the story as well as an endless curiosity that drives you, the viewer, to want to venture deeper into The Shimmer, something that makes what would normally seem like stupid horror movie decisions feel a lot more understandable, and much easier to relate to.
In all truth, I won’t say that Annihilation is on the same cerebral level as the likes of Ex Machina or Arrival, but the way it goes about its story, at its core a conventional adventure into the unknown, with such bold ingenuity and endless imagination is absolutely stunning to watch from beginning to end.
From beginning to end, the film is powerfully unsettling, even featuring what I can call one of the most stunningly disturbing scenes ever put to film, but it’s still an entertaining and engrossing watch throughout, thanks to beautiful visuals at every moment, engrossing characters, a very strong lead performance from Natalie Portman both on a physical and emotional level, and brilliant tension and sci-fi intrigue that will definitely have your jaw on the floor come the end, all of which is why I’m giving Annihilation an 8.4 overall.