Annihilation ★★★½

THIS is the movie certain cine so-and-sos say reaches the meditative, sparse, immaculately lensed depths of Stalker? THIS is the white-knuckle sci-fi horror heir to Alien and John Carpenter's® The Thing? What movie have these jabronies been watching?

Maybe advanced word of mouth got my expectations WAY too high but Annihilation rarely hits those spartan otherworldly Tarkovsky sweet notes. When rainbow CGI lighting and greenscreen landscapes with downloaded flora and fauna flood a picture 'til it almost drowns, ya might want to stop drawing comparisons to less-is-more philosophical sci-fi. And those tense'n'jumpy monster moments, while effective, can't compare to the no frills craft of J. Carp or even a Pyun. Those spookhouse scares kind of disrupt Annihilation's generally austere and eerie mood. Gotta jolt 'em awake, I guess!

But I did like the sort-of-novel central concept, and those final fifteen minutes with a blaring synth score felt real deal alien. Like intercepting a scrambled transmission from a higher intelligence communicating in a completely different (filmic) language that would break your brain even trying to comprehend. Wow! And a few scenes do fleetingly nail that Tarkovsky sculpting in time slow-drift uncanny fear. That plant scene -- brrrr! The revelation of what The Shimmer really is! HELP!

Still could've done without the 2131342312434 flashbacks to Natalie Portman and her husband, though. Talk about beating a dead were-bear.

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