Annihilation: A Breathtaking and Harrowing Look at Depression, Grief, Illness, and Trauma

annihilation movie film horror sci fi natalie portmanTo start off, if you haven’t seen Alex Garland’s Annihilation, I would recommend it, and I would also advise that you avoid the trailers. I went into the film with no knowledge beyond the fact that it’s a sci-fiĀ horror story adapted from a Jeff VanderMeer novel. A strange essence called The Shimmer starts encasing nature and keeps extending its presence, threatening to envelop populated land. Lena (Natalie Portman) and a group of other women with various types of medical, scientific and military backgrounds go into The Shimmer to, on the outside, discover why The Shimmer is doing this. Internally, though, there is something more at stake with each character.

Annihilation is the sort of film I started off ambivalent about; the first act, despite some beautiful shots (a grim movie without a 10% opacity filter!), goes on a bit, and despite being one of four people in the entire theatre, some gentleman decided to sit right behind me and fall asleep, loudly snoring fifteen minutes into the film till I moved from my spot. However, despite the beginning going on and having some questionable underacting, I thoroughly enjoyed the movie to the point of internally gushing as I thought about it later at night. I have purchased the entire Southern Reach trilogy, as well as a book important to the narrative, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks.

Anyhow, I’ll go more into the film below, but I would recommend seeing it before reading. I would also recommend proceeding with caution if you struggle with issues regarding mental illness, suicide, self-harm, grief, and cancer.

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Setup, Reminder, and Payoff: A Case Study of The Ritual

the ritual horror film movie writing story plotHi, bats, ghouls, and spirits! I wanted to give some brief thoughts on a film I saw a few weeks back, particularly a specific aspect I keep thinking about. David Bruckner’s The Ritual is a solid horror movie about a group of friends going into the woods as strange events occur. It is a film best seen without reading much on it, so if you haven’t seen it, I would recommend doing so because I will mostly be writing about the ending. Many will compare this to The Blair Witch Project, though it at times reminded me more of Evil Dead.

Overall, I thought the film was good, and it was the first good movie I saw in 2018, and the first decent Netflix original horror offering of 2018 (after such films like The Open House and The Cloverfield Paradox). There were great camera choices, especially the use of slow zoom ins, though I felt as if the script could have been stronger in some parts. I will speak about the story concepts of setup, reminder, and payoff, with regards to a plot line in the film. If you haven’t seen the movie, I would recommend not reading the rest of this post because I will go into details that are not revealed until the last thirty minutes of the film. (And really, even the opening is a tad of a spoiler.)

So, SPOILERS below.

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