Netflix is an interesting beast. Originally being the streaming version of a network, but with consumer choice, it has become a staple in so many households. Then after a while it started paying for its own content, which varies in quality thanks to their attitude of letting creators loose. Now a film that has been created for cinemas, has been released internationally on Netflix exclusively, and that movie is Annihilation.
Annihilation starts as a generic, Sci-Fi horror film. The main character Lena, has her husband come back from an Army Special Forces mission, where he was investigating something called the Shimmer. After being home for a while it’s clear he remembers nothing but starts getting mysteriously ill.
After he falls into a coma, Lena discovers he is the only person to have survived exploring the mysterious Shimmer, so a survivor is new to them, and they can’t get any info from him. Lena joins up with the next team that will be venturing into the Shimmer. The goal is to get to the lighthouse where the Shimmer started expanding from and figure out the next steps from there.
The team starts venturing in, and they start noticing things being off. From abandoned building that seem to be growing tumours, to animals who have changed, such as going blind. The closer they get to the lighthouse, the more extreme the adaptions to the world are.
This is where I don’t want to discuss the plot any further as the next stages in the story is when it becomes something special. The movie progresses in a dark, and at times freaky way which gets genuinely tense, before the last stages of the film when it goes off the wall crazy.
It walks a weird line between a pretentious think piece, and a thoughtful movie that asks questions about what we expect from threats to our existence.
The production value is absolutely on point, in no small way thanks to the excellent acting from everyone, especially Natalie Portman, Gina Rodriguez and Tessa Thompson. The CGI is fantastic, making for some beautiful scenes, especially when the aesthetic of the Shimmer is involved. It also makes for some truly uncomfortable and horrible images, which is also the CGI working as intended.
I can understand why the director wished the film was experienced in cinemas. The CGI spectacle and tense scenes would have been more effective on the bigger screen. The problem is that thanks to poor testing there was intentions to tweak the story for audiences, but the production team said no. Netflix was a compromise which at least let the film be exactly what it was intended to be.
Annihilation is a must see for any Sci-Fi fans, or fans of cult classics. It’s so strange and its ending goes so bananas, everybody owes themselves the opportunity to experience it unspoiled, so long as you can sit through some uncomfortable, tense, darker scenes.