“Annihilation” Review: Raw Horror and Psychological Terror

Natalie Portman in "Annihilation." Photo by Paramount Pictures

Annihilation is Alex Garland’s latest film after the successful sci-fi drama Ex Machina. The feature is based on Jeff VanderMeer’s award-winning novel and is difficult to pin down in terms of genre.

Natalie Portman stars as Lina, a biologist determined to save her soldier husband (Oscar Isaac) when he goes missing after an exhibition and returns exhibiting odd behavior which soon becomes destructive. Alongside three other women, she heads towards the quarantined area her husband had encountered on his mission to find out if she can rescue him.

The movie is artistically ambitious and mixes raw, physical horror with psychological and scientific terror. It successfully portrays a visually exciting sci-fi setting along with biologically mutated creatures which are the stuff of nightmares. Although the movie does drastically meander from the novel on which it is based, the strange and unsettling atmosphere from the book is captured through the visual marvels of the movie and it works beautifully.

Credit is also due to the credibility of the characters in Annihilation. It is a horror which you can watch without yelling at the screen as the characters make the same typical mistakes that they do in every archetype horror. The women on the exhibition are intelligent, believable and for once we can actually get behind the decisions they make in the face of danger.

As horrifying as it is strange, Annihilation is definitely worth a watch if you enjoy sci-fi or were a fan of Ex-Machina.