Annihilation is a 2018 sci-fi/horror film about an unexplainable event called the “shimmer” taking place near the southern coast of the US. After multiple investigations into the effected area yield no results, a team consisting of five women with various specialties is sent into the shimmer to find out its cause. Inside they find horrors that challenge everything they’ve ever known about life.
Annihilation has a few good things going for it, but they’re undone by the bad parts. The cast is excellent, the visuals are amazing, and the atmosphere is great. For me though, the writing just wasn’t up to par with everything else. The visuals in this movie look amazing. The shimmer is being caused by a meteorite that crashed into the area. As a result all surrounding life begins to be mutated, both plants and animals. As explained by a member of the team, it has effects similar to a prism, except it refracts everything, including DNA. This leads to some pretty great scenery and designs. The group encounters strange sights ranging from an alligator with shark-like features to plants that take the shape of a human. My favorite effect caused by the shimmer was the zombie bear that captured the voices of those it killed. After it attacked one of the ladies, it lures the other women to it when it screams for help in her dying voice, tricking them into believing she’s still alive.
The weakest part of this movie was the writing. Even though this is an unexplainable, alien event there’s a lot of things that happen that really make no sense. There are far too many moments where common sense and logic are absent when these people are supposed to be smart, on paper. Towards the beginning its shows that the military has been sending teams into the shimmer for a few years and none of them have ever returned. So what do they do? Continue to do the exact same thing for years, producing the same “results,” letting them learn nothing about this thing. When Oscar Isaacs character is shown to be the only person who’s ever returned from the shimmer he begins to spasm and cough up blood hes quarantined immediately as his health starts to fail. The very next group that gets sent into the shimmer goes in without so much as a dust mask on with only one having prior combat training. Obviously something inside caused him to have that reaction just as something else claimed the lives of every group sent in before yet there’s no further preparation, not steps taken to do anything different to get results.
Some of these girls are pretty dumb. They have a paramedic among them and when the group sees a video from a previous group, they see a soldier with his insides squirming and moving under his skin as though his intestines are alive. The paramedic says it’s just a trick of the light and everyone looks at her like she’s an idiot. Another scene that makes you scratch your head is when the group is attacked by the mutated alligator at the edge of the swamp. This is a giant alligator, roughly thirty feet, highly aggressive and really strong. They manage to kill it, and the next scene shows them in tiny boats traveling through the swamp. I guess they were taking the risk that was the only alligator in the entire area. At night they hole up in a facility and station someone at a guard shack to keep watch. The facility their sleeping in is a large tower and the guard shack is roughly three hundred feet from it. So obviously the person in the guard shack gets attacked and killed and no one even sees what happened or what did it because it was so far away.
The ending is…… it’s so weird that a description really cant’ do it any justice, but here goes. Portman gets to the initial crash site of the meteor and finds Leigh there who vomits out a rainbow rock, which transforms into a humanoid shape. This humanoid shape proves impervious to harm when Portman shoots at it, then it chases her culminating in a weird scene of mimicry and hugging before it turns into a copy of Portman. The ending is left open-ended as to whether the person we see outside in the real world is actually Portman or the alien thing.
Overall, this is a movie that had great potential but ultimately fell on its face. I liked it for the fact that it’s the closet to a modern adaptation of one of my favorite stories, The Colour out of Space and its interesting to see such a similar concept on-screen. Other than that, this movie is ultimately brought down by the poor writing and sheer dumbness of the plot. Basically this movie is dumb and made no sense, but it was amazing to look at.