Annihilation is a sci-fi horror movie that is almost never scary — it’s masterfully creepy, eerie, and most of all patient, so that when it does want to surprise or scare you, the emotion is earned.
Stanley Kubrick would be proud of director Alex Garland’s work here. The talented cast includes Natalie Portman, Tessa Thompson, and Jennifer Jason Leigh, playing scientists who venture into the phantasmagorical “Shimmer,” a Bermuda triangle-esque region that the US government has been throwing soldiers into for years, and out of which only one person has ever come out.
One of my few complaints is that the dialogue explaining what Portman (a cell biologist) sees in the Shimmer sometimes feels dumbed down or over-explained. “Malignant,” she remarks at one point, before needlessly adding, “Like a tumor.“ This movie is smarter than that.
Annihilation also leans on a framing device that didn’t totally work for me on the first viewing and still doesn’t now, but overall I’m really glad I decided to revisit this one. It’s great. Recommended.