‘Annihilation:’ You’ll wonder what hit you


Andy Moser

When you enter the theater to watch Annihilation, you’re anxious, ill-prepared, and don’t have the faintest idea of what lies ahead of you. In this way, you’re just like the characters, who enter a mystifying, ever-expanding bubble known as The Shimmer.

They don’t know where it came from, but they each have their own reasons for going in, knowing they might never come out. Lena (Natalie Portman), a biologist, has believed her military husband (Oscar Isaac) to be dead for a year until he miraculously returns, although he’s sick from an unknown cause. She’s recruited by a psychologist (Jennifer Jason Leigh) to join a couple other scientists on an expedition into The Shimmer. Lena thinks the answer to her husband’s mysterious illness lies within the iridescent boundary. She’ll find her source, whether she’s ready to be confronted by it or not.

There’s so much that writer/director Alex Garland (Ex Machina) gets right in order to deliver a truly immersive and unsettling experience.


Paranoia is all around while an unknown danger constantly lurks where the scientists least expect it. Garland brings you steadily inward until you feel as though you are living within the characters themselves. A low, brooding soundtrack practically becomes your feelings and emotions as it gradually crescendos into the climax. And through it all, you’re enamored by the cryptic, almost magical beauty of the world within The Shimmer, thanks to some outstanding visual effects and extraordinary imagination.

Gina Rodriguez’s fiery determination is balanced by Tessa Thompson’s quiet strength and Leigh’s cold secrecy, supporting a stellar performance from Portman.

What makes Annihilation especially consuming, though, are the questions it poses that you’ll be pondering for hours, perhaps days after the screen goes dark. Your enjoyment of it may depend on whether you buy into the physical answers the film gives for its phenomena, but the most important answers are for you to decide.

Annihilation forces us to confront the hideous inevitable and find peace within. It’s terrifying, inquisitive, and deeply unnerving. Will you face it? Fight it? Or let it consume you? However you react, you won’t be able to shake it.

4.5/5 Sails

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