Annihilation follows a team of scientists that travel into a mysterious zone of land that is being manipulated by an unknown force. As they dive deeper into the area, it becomes clear that the forces changing the environment are changing them as well.
Tell everyone you loved Annihilation and you come across as smart. Fear the sentiment of not liking it and being labeled dimwitted and small-minded. This is a great movie that is developing a stigma around its incomprehensible theoretical elements. In my opinion, we're not supposed to get it and that's the point.
In some ways this movie reminded me of the final act of Interstellar, except where Interstellar tackles theoretical concepts late in the game, Annihilation dives in on it early and often, leaving far more questions and answers. Many will scour the film's nuances for answers to everything, and it's my opinion they won't find them. Because this movie is about experiencing something incomprehensible to our understanding. It's as much about the psychological and physical toll of such experiences as it is about the experience itself.
I could be wrong. I could be missing the point. But that is what I gathered from this movie, and I loved its exploration therein. Perhaps that's where the division comes in. Viewers tended to love this movie or hate it. I am generally a seeker of answers in film, especially science fiction. I prefer explanations. But occasionally it's nice to see a cinematic expression that embraces the inconceivable.
It helps to have a great cast that plays well off of each other. The dialogue is effective and adds to the visual experience of the film; a beautiful disaster. We see the breakdown of our reality and our nature into something horrendous and gorgeous. It's horror in a vibrant painting that we are involved in at ground level along with the characters.
The horror is there, but not the primary factor. This is above all else a science fiction film, but its elements of horror are not so infrequent that they can be denied. The film houses a great action horror scene that is well constructed and introduces us to the violence and dangers of the realm. We are given glimpses of the aftermath of this manipulated world and the grotesque transformations awaiting its inhabitants. We get a disturbing scene that refuses to turn away. And we also get one of the finest scenes in pure horror in a decade. It's vivid, it's visceral, it's engaging, and it's a cinematic masterpiece.
The film lags a little in its final act, in that I felt some of the action wasn't responsive enough to coincide with the build of the film. Questions turn into more questions and nothing feels resolved. Go into the film knowing that you are likely not to understand all or most of what's happening.
Despite the film's division along its understanding, I found myself enthralled throughout the journey. I felt like I went through a dream, filled with nightmares and fantasies, and came out fully immersed in the thoughts from the experience. I wanted more. And perhaps I needed more.
I found a decent explanation for what is happening involves some degree of theoretical concepts of an entity and/or force of pure fractal construct. Given I don't fully understand fractals and especially any theories associated with them, I could be way off. But it's fun to look at the film through this lens.
Horror Rating System
Horror Qualifier: 7/10
Horror Quality: 6/10
Film Quality: 8/10