IHE’s review published on Letterboxd:
I feel like this is a film I may change my thoughts and opinions on as more time passes so this will be my initial impressions.
As a huge fan of Ex Machina I was very excited for what Garland was going to deliver with this movie. I’m simultaneously disappointed and impressed. Annihilation tackles a lot of different ideas and themes all to various degrees of success. The production and art design is inspired and quite unlike anything I’ve ever seen before, but is let down at times by some weak CGI and effects work. The story and world building is absolutely fascinating but is held back by bizarrely simplistic dialogue and weak characters. The “interrogation” narrative framing also removed a lot of the tension and mystery for me, I think it would be far more effective as a horror/adventure/tension piece if more faith was held in a more withdrawn delivery of important information to the audience. The final sequence in the lighthouse is one of the most unnerving and disturbing scenes I’ve ever seen in a film, it scared me to my core and is almost worth watching just to see what your reaction will be.
Ultimately when I am so uninterested in the characters quiet and understated struggles, I find it difficult to appreciate anything that should otherwise be propped up by the other aspects of filmmaking. For every positive I can think of an equal negative, which is a shame because I think unique science fiction should be encouraged and supported so we get more of it.
The unflinching violence and mystery kept me interested until the credits, there are frightening scenes that have been burned into my memory, but the overall impact has me somewhat torn on if I like it or not. I’d recommend to fans of body horror and science fiction, but I’d equally understand a strong positive or negative reaction. It’s on Netflix in the UK anyway, so you might as well check it out.