Annihilation ★★★★★

A haunting and excruciatingly bleak examination of grief and the transformative process of "moving on"; Annihilation is the kind of intelligent, earnest science fiction storytelling I value above all others. To dissect and break down each element in this would be a disservice to the film's power; which thrives off the steadily building tension, wonder and horror Garland so curiously laces this movie with. But all I'll say for now is that every part of this story, every quiet moment of catharsis and shock of terror, parallels fascinatingly with some step in the experience of feeling true sadness. The emphasis here, and the source of its pervasive uneasiness and quietly nightmarish atmosphere, is on how destructive it can all be. How much of yourself sometimes needs to be left behind in order to move on, and how violent that transformation can be.

Annihilation does it's work quietly, gently flooding the senses with a subdued but ever-growing feeling of dread, fascination and a complex sadness that lingers long after the credits roll. Alex Garland has had a hand, in some capacity, in some of the best sci-fi of this decade (Dredd, Sunshine, 28 Days Later, Ex Machina, Never Let Me Go), cementing himself as one of the most exciting artists working in the genre. Annihilation obsesses itself with the idea that humanity is damaged goods, destined to lose ourselves to our destructive impulses, or - in Ex Machina's case, our dangerous ambitions. It may not play perfectly, at points a little too on-the-nose and structurally clunky for its own good, but it works as the best sci-fi does; exploring deeply intimate and uniquely human experiences in engrossing, imaginative and complex stories that offer both escapism and opportunities for introspection. A true gem. Watch this in a theater.

2018 Ranked

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