Annihilation ★★★★½

Alex Garland has consistently proven himself to be one of the most versatile and constantly satisfying writer/director in Hollywood. From what I’ve seen with Ex Machina and Sunshine, his style and creativeness makes him one of the freshest voices out there. I think I was turned off from Annihilation a bit because of the laughable marketing campaign (not to mention the fact that it's going straight to Netflix in other markets) and the idea of adapting something like the book that it is based on just seemed impossible. Which is why I did not expect to leave this film the way I did. And I can’t explain it. It’s not a perfect film, no. In terms of his work, the writing is probably his weakest. The dialogue is sometimes infuriating and unrealistic, and only serves in having big shock moments at points. But this film brought something to the sci-fi genre that many films like its kind can not: terror. Pure, horror. The idea of the shimmer is terrifying, but Garland encapsulates that fear in a way that makes your skin crawl. This is the first time in a while where I have been genuinely disturbed by the ideas and images presented in the film. Because unlike a film like Under the Skin, metaphors and themes serve the story in a profound way. I left the theater haunted by the images presented to me. The score of the film echoed in my mind. The screams of characters sounded out everywhere. Sci-fi is such a hard genre to tackle. Most films recycle ideas from everywhere. And while watching this film I was just reminded of countless other films that use the same themes and ideas (The Thing, Arrival, Ex Machina, etc), but Annihilation manages to provide a new voice. It leads you on to think you know more than the film does. Right from the opening, you believe you know the story. The framing device of Portman being interviewed almost comes off as lazy, but somehow it works because of the punches the film pulls. There are scenes where you almost don’t believe they’re happening (the bedroom painting scene in particular). It's a film that's haunted my mind since I left the theater. It's one I think is destined to become a classic. The modern Lovecraft film, that to rival something of Kubrick or Roeg. See this film.

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