Rob’s review published on Letterboxd:
Part of me thinks the rest of the movie is Natalie Portman, twitching on her bedroom floor, hallucinating and sometimes having the conscious thought: "I shoulda gone to that garden party. Or at least maybe have opened up the fucking windows before I started drunk painting on a hot Saturday afternoon."
At the start, this reminds me a little of Aliens by way of Alien, by which I mean we've got a team of trained soldiers going into a dangerous situation like in the sequel, but one that's terrifying at it's face and totally unknowable like the original.
Like Alien, we spend a reasonable amount of time getting to know the players and their relationships, although nowhere near the same amount of time, and this time it's all scientists rather than "space truckers."
And my first instinct would be to say I relate to space truckers more, but once you start to lose time, and see mutant plants and monster bulletproof alligators, maybe your degree stops mattering.
This is a slow burner that gently ramps up the tension. You know it's bad because you know almost no one gets out of the Shimmer, but director Alex Garland doles out information on just how bad it is a little at a time. And how bad it is really is Alien-like: it's inside you. But maybe it's also Lovecraft-like: it's inside you, and it maybe makes you stop being you.
Jesus, the first character we meet destroyed by the Shimmer is named Kane. The influences here are closer to the surface than I originally thought.
I'll tell you this: Garland is one of the directors who can get something good out of Natalie Portman. Her default setting is the flat affect of a mental patient, which actually serves a lot of this flick well, but he also gets moments of genuine emotion out of her. Not everyone can do that; there's Besson, Aranofsky... maybe that's it. George Lucas sure ain't on that list; if Natalie dropped from a seizure on the set, he'd tell her to do it faster and with more energy. But I'm losing the thread again.
So everyone begins to turn on each other and the paramedic ties the rest to chairs and OOOH IT'S MANBEARPIG YAAAYYYY
The cinematography in this movie is often just beautiful. Rob Hardy gives us everything from lush wetlands to crystal beaches, all under a sun that's refracted and strange. No one can't say this isn't a cool looking sci-fi movie.
There's some theme here about the difference between who we are and who we pretend to be and how destructive the difference can be, but I've been drinking Jack's Abby IPL and I'm not that smart on a good day anyway.
This was a solid sci-fi horror flick that felt pretty original and reminded me of one of my favorite other sci-fi horror flicks. It was fun.
Note someone throw Garland some money and get me a Dredd sequel, Goddammit.