Annihilation

Out Now On-Demand

One way in. No way out.

Natalie Portman is a biologist who signs up for a dangerous, secret expedition into a mysterious zone where the laws of nature don't apply. From writer-director Alex Garland (Ex Machina).

Lena, a biologist and former soldier, joins a mission to uncover what happened to her husband inside Area X - a sinister and mysterious phenomenon that is expanding across the American coastline. Once inside, the expedition discovers a world of mutated landscape and creatures, as dangerous as it is beautiful, that threatens both their lives and their sanity.

Trailers

Directed by

Written by

  • Alex Garland
  • (based on the novel of the same name by Jeff VanderMeer)

Action, Adventure, Fantasy, Science Fiction, Thriller

115mins

USA, UK

Alex Garland’s sci-fi Annihilation arrives with a ton of anticipation, deflated somewhat by being consigned to Netflix and forcing its psychedelic, mind-bending, components onto a smaller screen than ideal. To some, the film’s dismissal by producer David Ellison as “too intellectual” and “too complicated” for commercial success was just another factor in its attractiveness. While generating an eye roll at the time, Ellison was probably right as Annihilation veers closer to Andrei Tarkovsky’s Stalker than it does the likes of Predator or Alien - though it's not as much of a slog and has often stunning composition and special effects as opposed to, say, wind blowing some grass (see also: The Happening).

Garland’s subjective take on Jeff Vandermeer’s novel streamlines some of the source material, shearing off massive chunks elsewhere, as it follows the latest in a line of presumably ill-fated expeditions who never returned from a mysterious, slowly-expanding, zone known variously as Area X or the Shimmer - the latter for immediately obvious visual reasons. Why the team (Natalie Portman, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Tessa Thompson, Gina Rodriguez, Tuva Novotny) are all women gets merely a mention, though Portman's biologist is driven by curiosity about what happened to her husband in the Shimmer. The guilt she carries about their relationship proves crucial to the character’s motivations and a surface reading of the film’s conclusion.

Many readers of Southern Reach trilogy, including yours truly, would be swift to acknowledge the impossibility of a direct adaptation of Vandermeer’s confounding work. That would be especially true in capturing its most Ballard-ian and Lovecraft-like elements - fever-dream shifts in logic and reality, creatures and motives that defy description and even, at times, the reader’s imagination. Garland’s nailed the eerie tone, helped by a cast serving up understated performances with often masked motivations - thankfully for the audience, they get on better with each other than the written version. The director also makes his own mind-bending contribution to the third act, playing Kubrick to Vandermeer’s Clarke as Annihilation defiantly declares “so what if we can’t show that, try writing this”.

Unfortunately, with a few too many of the book’s most memorable scenes missing, and an ending that recalls some of the obviousness of Garland’s previous writing gig on Sunshine in personifying the unknowable, Annihilation isn’t all it could be. It’s still highly recommended viewing, a patient puzzler that invites comparisons to Solaris (hi again, Tarkovsky) and Arrival in how it sees the deeply personal collide with the incomprehensible.

TimeOut (New York)

press

Garland's creeping pace lulls you on an almost molecular level; he's made something akin to an end-of-the-world film, but one in which the changes afoot might not be wholly bad, title be damned.

NPR

press

Writer-director Alex Garland has made an atom bomb of a movie, fiery and all-consuming and quite unnatural. It fills every inch of our heads with its beautiful terrors.

New York Times

press

Mr. Garland has a talent for unnerving you with quietly dissonant notes and an occasional grotesque flourish.

Los Angeles Times

press

It gives itself, and the audience, an awful lot to see.

Rolling Stone

press

Alex Garland's bracing brainteaser has the courage of its own ambiguity. You work out the answers in your own head, in your own time, in your own dreams, where the best sci-fi puzzles leave things. Get ready to be rocked.

Hollywood Reporter

press

Annihilation is a ferocious, feral, female-centric update of fearsome monster classics like The Thing and Alien.

The Guardian (UK)

press

Annihilation is more than mere visuals and it will shock, fascinate and haunt whatever screen it's watched on.

Variety (USA)

press

For those willing to put in the effort, "Annihilation" achieves that rare feat of great genre cinema, where we are not merely thrilled ... but also feel as if our minds have been expanded ...

Stuff.co.nz (James Croot)

press

Annihilation is the thrilling, smart science-fiction movie you need in your life and, thanks to Netflix, on your own screen, right now.

FilmInk (Australia)

press

Like all the best horror, Annihilation is steeped in character, mood, and ideas.

NZ Herald (Chris Schulz)

press

Annihilation is the big screen experience of the year.
Bayly

Bayly

user


Annihilation Review

'Annihilation' is one of those movies were it is both very disturbing and extremely satisfying at the same time.

I don't really recommend this movie that much for fantasy and sci - fi lovers because of it's lack of excitement.

PercyM

PercyM

user


Just wow.

It's thrilling, suspenseful and jaw-dropping.