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'Annihilation' is an unsettling science fiction fever dream

* Anihilation.jpgWriter-director Alex Garland has said that his adaptation of Annihilation isn't a straightforward retelling of the book - instead, he's described it as "true to my subjective response to the novel."

That's a fair warning: The movie's details don't really match the book, which was written by Jeff VanderMeer. What carries over, however, is a sense of dread and unease; readers of the novel and watchers of the film will both feel a pervasive discomfort that they can't quite put their finger on.

As the movie begins, a biologist played by Natalie Portman has returned from Area X, a mysterious patch of wilderness hidden behind a barrier called The Shimmer. The expedition's other members have not returned, and the biologist seems uncertain about whether any of them might still be alive.

The rest of the film (which opens in US theaters before going live on Netflix internationally) fills in the details of what transpired beyond The Shimmer, and of why Portman's character felt compelled to join the expedition in the first place.

26th February 2018

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