Horror Annihilation (2018) (10/10)

Jethro

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Jan 21, 2013
"It's not destroying... It's making something new" - Lena

Lena's military husband Kane has been missing for about a year and she is not over the dude, which is kind of ironic if you have seen the movie. Anyways she is planning a rock hard weekend of painting the bedroom when who should show up, Kane, who is changed and seems distant. He isn't answering her questions about his whereabouts, but may have some major medical issues. Lena calls an ambulance and they are soon rushing to the nearest hospital, unfortunately they don't get there as they are intercepted and whisked off to a secret military base. We learn Lena's husband disappeared into something called "the shimmering" and is not surprisingly the only survivor of his unit.

One thing leads to another and Lena, who just happens to be ex-military, medical biology expert, is keen on entering the shimmering herself to see what might be happening beyond its gradually expanding borders. Naturally things are mutating due to a sort of alien invasion and Lena and her all women team are going to have to face some nasty creatures, mutating vegetation, and ultimately the source of the shimmering. If anyone is thinking John Carpenter's The Thing, well yes and no, this is more your cerebral challenge than an out and out shoot em in the head flick. Ready to roll with what might be the best Sci-Fi/horror movie of the year, let's lock and load and see if the movie will wipe us out.

Netflix is playing with my head folks, playing with my head, every time I gear up to be excited about a movie it drops unannounced on the streaming service. Might be wrong but vaguely thought Annihilation, which deserves it, had a cinema release date start of year. I'm just going to say the movie is the best Sci-Fi movie I've seen since Arrival, which was half an hour too long for mine, and the best female horror orientated movie since The Descent rocked the cinema house down. I'm not going to muck around here, 10/10, the perfect movie in its genre.

There's some talk doing the rounds that Annihilation as a whole is paying homage to The Thing (1982), not so sure to be honest, if I had to draw parallels, which I don't want to do really, I would be more edging toward Invasion Of the Body Snatchers (1978) meets The Island of Dr. Moreau (1977). The common theme there is all the movies mentioned are Sci-Fi with horror elements. Guess some people are going down JC's ode to Sci-Fi path due to the arrival of the alien force. Early in that movie we get a scene of the extra-terrestrial saucer arriving from space and slamming into the earth, in Annihilation we get a meteor zooming in from the heavens and smashing into the base of a lighthouse. I'll leave it to Lyz to one day explain the physics of that, hey she's a scientist and I'm just this horror guy okay. Anyways besides some mutations that's pretty much where the comparison rests for me, but it did at least give me a chance to segue to the Alien arrival, and yes "segue" is my word of the month.

So we get a number of creatures in the movie, which qualifies things as horror, and for sure I would have liked a few more mutated beasties but you take what you get. There's a gator displaying a pretty impressive set of fangs, and of course there is a bear with way different attributes to your everyday bear. Actually the bear scenes are the most creepy of the whole movie and if you don't like your Sci-Fi on the freaky deaky side of the equation then this might be a good time to make a cup of tea or down a bottle of scotch, or run naked around your block. Whatever you do to fill in ten or so minutes, up to you, we make no judgements here. Besides the fore mentioned beasties we also get the attack of the floral and plant arrangements, growing into human shapes was a neat idea, and the odd other creature that was more visual ornamentation than a clear and present danger.

Director Alex Garland really layers on the eye candy in this one; the visuals are superb while constantly presenting possible dangers. Toward the end of the movie, where things really go all out Sci-Fi, you are in for some mind bending visuals that had me giving a standing ovation. I was rocking along to Garland's structure in use here, we have title cards for each new "chapter" in the movie, and there's a whole present and past thing going down that highlights some of the principle concepts Garland has happening.Garland is building a reputation for a strong visual style that mixes reality with fantasy and makes it all seem infinitely possible. Got to say Annihilation is really going to help Garland's reputation, and definitely gives us audience tragics a movie we can re-watch at least once a year.

Been a while since I've seen a movie with a predominately female cast, last one would have been one of those Descent movies, and was mightily impressed with the cast that was assembled for Annihilation. Natalie Portman delivers perhaps her best performance as Lena, the military kick arse chick with a sideline in biology, she is amply supported by Jennifer Jason Leigh (Dr Ventress) who has been hanging out in the horror aisle recently, Gina Rodriguez (Anya Thorensen) the tough Latino chick - think Private Vasquez (Aliens), and Josie (Tessa Thompson) who plays shy and super intelligent. No one is letting the team down and director Alex Garland is getting the best out of everyone.

I guess the other thing I should mention is while in the shimmer people are gradually having their genetic makeup altered, and there is a heavy degree of paranoia going down. So it's not all get in, avoid the monsters, and get out with knowledge about the course and effect of the shimmering. Your reality is also going to be affected in surprisingly strange ways.
So clearly director Alex Garland has his horror tactics on and while we have discussed some of them already, I keep going back to the bear, he is also delivering unto us some truly shocking scenes. For gorehounds there is some coming at you in the form of some intense body horror and the whole concept of body doubles and alien make overs. Sorry can't report anything like T&A, the movie is a serious look at the Sci-Fi horror genre and isn't bothering with titillation in any form.
I've left this till almost the end of the review but there might be a slight problem with Annihilation for some horror fans. Hate to say it but at times the movie is slow moving as it delves into drama, so if you like your movie rocking and rolling from first frame to last frame then you could find your relationship with this movie strained. Personally I was okay with this aspect as Garland isn't letting up with the serious nature of things, and since when did either Sci-Fi or horror not have dramatic interludes.

Think I've covered all bases with Annihilation and am still going to go with a 10/10 rating, I don't mind movies that take time out of their busy schedules to explore their characters and how events are effecting them. Equally I'm not going to be kicking the movie in the head for the horror elements that had me head banging like I was at a Deep Purple concert. While not being a Sci-Fi nerd I don't mind a serious journey into that territory as well, so overall I was happy with the elements that make up this at times schizophrenic movie. Alex Garland has delivered an instant classic and for mine one of the best movies thus far of 2018. Clearly a huge recommendation on this one, Annihilation is a movie that will have you debating the ending over and over again, I have my theories, but catch up with the movie and make your own mind up about it.
 
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Tom

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Dec 6, 2004
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Gulf Coast
I'm not so sure about a 10/10 but its is a solid 8/10 or a low 9/10.
Certainly worth a few watches.
I did sense some technical and reasonableness issues, not severe, but they were there.
Nice review!
 

Tom

An Old Friend
Joined
Dec 6, 2004
Location
Gulf Coast
After rewatching it again, I revise my rating to 7/10, maybe even a high 6/10.
Too many inconsistencies, shallow characters, illogical reasoning for a science team.
Still love the concept tho.
That concept being an alien lifeform that is truly alien.
Summarized nicely in Lena's replies during interrogation "I Don't Know"
 

Jethro

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Jan 21, 2013
Tom you are getting picky what with a zillion movies to watch :LOL: Still popping 10/10 on this one, dug the monsters and hey since when did us horror folk concern ourselves with namby pamby stuff like characterisation.
 
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