With all the fan theories on Reddit these days, with the way people search frame by frame through movies, it seems more than ever like people want movies to make sense and offer answers. One of my favorite movies of 2018 resisted that drive: Annihilation.
Annihilation, which is a word I finally can spell consistently thanks to this movie, is based on a book of the same name. But sort of like Blade Runner, it is less concerned with holding tight to the story of the book and more with engaging with its ideas. And again, like Blade Runner, what we get as an end product is a stunning movie with philosophical questions that it knows answers don’t exist for.
The movie tells the story of a biologist, Lena (Natalie Portman), who still aches from the disappearance of her husband. Having thrown herself into her work, Lena volunteers to go on an expedition into a quarantined area in the American south, where people disappear and strange things happen. Lena and a small team of women scientists step through the iridescent veil surrounding this area, called the Shimmer, and things get weird. DNA mutates in a matter of days, and animals we might otherwise recognize are twisted beyond classification.
The scientists quickly begin to lose their grip on reality, too, as reality shifts around them.
This isn’t an action movie – it’s slow. But it’s gorgeous, and I was enthralled the whole time as I watched the events unfold. The movie is a sensory experience, not a logic puzzle, and it never concerns itself with explaining what’s going on on-screen. That seems to be something some fans have found off-putting. It was something about the movie that I cherished. It left me feeling uncomfortable and a little shaken the way the best “weird” movies and shows do.
Annihilation left a strong impression on me, and it’s a movie I still think about months after the credits rolled.
- Release Date: February 23, 2018
- Box Office: $32.7 million
- Rotten Tomatoes score: 88%
- Director: Alex Garland
- Starring: Natalie Portman, Tessa Thompson, Gina Rodriguez, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Oscar Isaac
- Buy: Amazon