Annihilation (2018)

Annihilation (2018) – IMDB

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I feel Alex Garland, Director and Writer, reached a peak with this one. Something special emerged from the mind behind Ex Machina and Sunshine. He is very underrated in how he handles the content of film. Annihilation is the perfect example. Taken from the works of Jeff VanderMeer, Garland creates a mystical story with dreamlike quality. Collecting images of obscure focus, air full of rainbow hues against a backdrop of lush greens. The book itself is read like a dream, lost, but a dream that demands the reader to stretch their active membranes into a working cluster of incoherent images. That’s where Garland shines in creating a world that is alien but familiar and yet frightening. Adapting only from the first book of a trilogy, Annihilation is a challenge to adapt for viewers and transforming the material into the director’s own, making it the most logical sense and pays off. With an original vision and paying respects to the original material, this is some unique filmmaking.

Long after the credits roll, Annihilation sits with you. Simmers inside your gut. It’s discomforting and beautiful. Mesmerizing and terrifying. In all of my movie watching there is nothing like the images depicted onscreen. It is unique and challenging to witness. Nothing like it has been done before. Not everything is explained which leaves the viewer speechless and bewildered. When I first saw it in theater I had zero idea what to make of what I saw. There was horror and surreal imagery of beyond our comprehension. And that is what makes the film so dreadfully beautiful.

Annihilation relates closely to the book of the same title. As I have read it, both deserve recognition. However, the big screen is what I prefer. For the book was even more hard to grasp. Full of imagery and little dialogue, constantly demanding my attention to form this otherworldly landscape. Garland did a fantastic job, in my opinion, with this current adaptation. As one remained an unanswered nightmare, Garland’s seemed to be a subtle message of cells.

On a grander scale, a comet collides from the outer walls of our mother Earth into a Lighthouse. Thus springing forth a mysterious Shimmer. A glowing dome of rainbow luminescence becomes a fixation of scientists as it grows beyond it’s initial impact. Within this dome, life seems to copy, refract, and combine itself. This creates some beautiful creatures and some horrendous monstrosities. In a way, it’s a cancer. Manipulating it’s environment to mimic life. The comet sets off an ambiguous force that wants to create and make it’s own life. This could be seen as alien. A foreign lifeform taking control of another planet that deems to be the next suiter. Or perhaps mother Earth is a giant cell. The comet is a plummeting cancer or virus. We are merely smaller working cells for Earth. After collision, one cell begins to mimic another, thus bringing a new form of life. In a way, it’s terrifying, and another, beautiful because the foreign object, the Shimmer, replicates Earth life forms as one species. This tells me we are one with Earth, the same, and this is how the Alien life form perceives us as it tries to make something new.

However, this is open to interpretation. I do not believe the author of the original material meant for something deep. When you have Alex Garland behind the project, I would expect something that would require me to think. At least challenge my views.

With one selfish opinion to add, I could not help but distinguish Garland’s style for science fiction and horror to fit perfectly with a new installment in the Alien franchise. His approach to artificial life like his work on Ex Machina would leave Ridley Scott out of the director’s chair. Garland’s brand of horror is dark enough for the corners of space thanks to Annihilation and Sunshine. He contains an expansive exploration many filmmakers do not have the courage, not to mention the imagery to capture on screen. I’d like to mention he’d be a prefect specimen to lead a Bioshock adaption from the videogame. Contains similar genres to tackle like sci fi horror and an incredible story to embark on beneath the ocean.

Annihilation can turn away viewers for it’s ambiguous story and not explaining anything. I like the film for this reason. However, where there are changes to the adaptation some I thought worked while others I thought were down right stupid. Notably a scene which involves our protagonists to take patrol at night in a run down base but ends up disastrous and I simply can’t bear.

When I saw Annihilation in theaters I was mesmerized and horrified. It felt bigger than all of us but on such a small scale. The content is hard to digest and stays with you. I will always remember sitting there feeling low key terrified when an unwelcomed guest ventures into a house in ruin with the scientists tied to their chairs. A feeling of utter hopelessness and fear settles in. The lighthouse is an entire work of art of disturbance and fascination. Annihilation is a unique viewing experience that works as a standalone feature without the other stories in the trilogy being adapted.