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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