I had just finished filming my short film ‘Cassie’ when it came to my attention that Alex Garland was releasing a new film- Annialation staring Natalie Portman. I remembered how much I loved Ex-Machina and I even used that film as inspiration for the direction that I wanted to take my short film. So I thought that it was only right that I went to go see what this film had to offer. Plus, I have a MoviePass so why the fuck not?
First of all. I remember how that fucking trailer made me feel. Hearing that weird “Bruuwwwaaawwwaaawwaaahhhwaaaa” sound made me shook as fuck and I was wondering what the fuck was going on. The trailers didn’t reveal so much where I was actually able to sit back and just enjoy the show. The shimmer in the trailer looked beautiful I just wondered to myself…
“Damn, I wonder what the fuck this movie is about and why the fuck does that shimmer look so sexy!?”
Annihilation is a film directed by Alex Garland after his wonderful film ‘Ex-Machina’. The Film stars Natalie Portman, Tessa Thompson, Jane the Virgin (Gina Rodriguez), The sister from ‘The Hateful 8’ (Jennifer Jason Leigh), and the woman who lost her daughter (Tuva Novotny). The film was led by five strong women that were determined to find out what was happening inside of a lighthouse that was the point of origin for the shimmer. Each of the women had their own reasons for going into this lighthouse but at the end of the day, they all knew that it was a suicide mission. They saw how many people went into that lighthouse and never returned.
THIS WAS THE FIRST MOVIE IN A LONG TIME TO GIVE ME ACTUAL NIGHTMARES!
The way that the film played out reminded me of a dream. And it would make sense if that was on purpose too. Walter Murch editor of ‘Apocalypse Now’ says,
“Although ‘day to day’ reality appears to be continuous, there is that other world in which we spend perhaps a third of our lives: the ‘night to night’ reality of dreams. And the images of dreams are more fragmented, intersecting in much stranger and more abrupt ways than the images of waking reality”.
This film was just loaded with things that my brain could not process and when I closed my eyes I still could not stop thinking about that film which led me to have a nightmare about the Alien. When I woke up from the nightmare I shit you not I could not tell the difference between the dream world and the real world. And it started to get me thinking: Are movies what motivate our dreams or do our dreams motivate our movies? Off topic but this film also made me wonder how our ancestors used to dream before 100 years ago without the invention of film. THAT’S HOW MUCH THIS FILM FUCKED ME UP! I WAS LIVING IN INCEPTION AND NOW UNDERSTOOD HOW COBB FELT!
I believed Portman’s character 100 percent of the movie. It was weird because I couldn’t quite understand what her motivation was for the film because the damage has already been done. If you are still reading and you don’t want spoilers… LEAVE.
Natalie Portman has a beautiful marriage with her husband until she decides to fuck it all up by cheating on my boy Oscar Issac. He finds out about it so instead of just confronting her about it he just straight up leaves off to this suicide mission and comes back halfway crazy. Anyways, I didn’t understand her motivation for going inside of the shimmer since her “husband” was back and she fucking cheated on him like a sket (the UK word for Hoe). I couldn’t process it but my girlfriend told me that the reason why she went in was that she felt like she owed her husband. I believe they also mentioned it in the film but I was still lost. The film had a lot of flashbacks.
She told me that the point of showing Natalie Portman cheating on her husband and all of the other women in the film that made them go into the simmer to self-destruct is to show that side of feminine energy that is capable of doing all things, good and bad. I butchered the way she said it but it made sense. All of those women in some way showed to have extremely toxic behavior. Like how Tessa Thompson’s character had inflicted harm on herself multiple times in the past.
All four of these powerful women are inside the shimmer and things are a blur to them. Inside the shimmer was so beautiful. The point of the shimmer was that it was refracting the DNA from all of the living creatures and shooting it back into other things. So the appearance of the shimmer (the outside) made sense. The liquid glass-like texture with all of the colors represented everything being moved around. The alligator had an extra row of teeth and the deer had actually had a clone of itself.
The best part of the film was the progression. And when I say this I mean in the order that the film made you go,
“What the fuck”? It starts out slow. Animals, humans, then it gets dark.
The second crazy part of the film was the part where ‘Jane the Virgin’ ties up Portman and the other women because she finds out Portman is lying about her husband.
That fucking part where the bear started to scream like the woman who lost her daughter was fucking insane. I feel like I’ve never seen something so freaky like that in a film! The way that the scene was set up was beautiful. ‘Jane the Virgin’ technically lets the bear into the house and now it’s up to the women that are cuffed to the chair to find a way to escape.
The pacing of the scene made my heart race because every time that bear opened its mouth to scream, her voice came out instead. The thought that her consciousness, specifically the part of her that died got merged with the bear was crazy. Like I said the progression of this film was crazy and needed because if we didn’t know that the shimmer was able to project weird shit then by the time we got to the lighthouse nothing would make any sense.
But the film is not perfect. I thought that some of the ways that they showed us the shimmer’s capabilities were lazy. HOW THE FUCK DID THE OTHER GROUP KNOW THAT SOMEONE WAS GOING TO FIND THE CAMERA!? I guess I’m more upset about the fact that we might have been able to figure it out in a more interesting way. I felt like the camera was a bit too convenient. And they used this a few times. Watching the guy’s stomach swirl in that video was freaky. But watching Oscar Issac kill himself only to find out he was talking to “himself” made me scratch my head.
THE LIGHTHOUSE- THE SOURCE OF MY NIGHTMARE
After our entire journey, we finally made it to the lighthouse. And I was just confused as fuck. I was already lost because we had just watched the footage of her husband dying so who tf was that back at the research center? Finding the sister from ‘The Hateful 8’ inside the lighthouse as she turned into a portal made zero sense but I knew we were at the climax of the film.
The whole time I’m just wondering,
“WHY THE FUCK ARE YOU STILL STANDING THERE!? MOVE!!” and then it’s too late because now there is this tall slender black metal no face looking creature just standing there looking at Natalie. I’ll tell you right now if that was real life I would have shit myself! I would cry, pee, and shit all at the same time. That had to be the scariest thing I’ve ever seen in my life. And that was the source of my nightmare, The Alien.
The music made the whole sequence even more unsettling because all you kept hearing was the bassy,
As soon as Portman finally made it out of the bottom of the lighthouse the alien is just waiting for her. But I loved what it symbolized. At least what I think it symbolized.
An Analysis of ‘The Alien’
As Natalie ran away from the Alien, the Alien followed her movements. If she ran then the Alien would run too. And it was a perfect representation of her character. She felt like the only way to save her husband was to go into the shimmer. But she never had to face him to deal with the damage that she had done to her marriage. The Alien represented the self-destructive part of her which is why when she was pressed against the door she passed out.
When she woke up I thought this was an indication that now we were watching Portman from the Alien’s point of view but I’m still not sure. I want to be certain that they made a swap but I don’t think that they did. It isn’t until Portman realizes that the Alien is going to follow her every move that she beings to think clearly. This represents her accepting what she has done in order for her to move on with her life. That’s why she makes contact with the Alien.
Making contact with the Alien is a representation of her becoming one with herself and embracing all of her as she can now see her face take shape in the face of the Alien. Others have said that The Alien was a way for her to get rid of all of her self-destructive properties since the point of the movie is about how we are naturally programmed to fuck ourselves up. Throughout the entire film, all she talks about is cancer cells but it’s because that is what the film is about. Destroying ourselves.
WE NEED MORE LIKE THIS
Sometimes I’ll complain that we don’t have enough good sci-fi movies but this right here is pure sci-fi. It has that element of mystery, thriller, and oh my goodness overall I just loved the film and I wish Hollywood movies could always be this bold. I know that the film was afraid of it not doing well in the states and so overseas they sold the rights to Netflix. And that is a weird trend that I hope doesn’t continue because Paramount has recently done the same thing with the last Cloverfield film (Paradox).
If we stop going to watch these movies then these will go straight to platforms like Hulu and Netflix and the visuals are just way too beautiful for that. I was not aware that this movie was based on a book and I am honestly going to buy a copy and read the shit out of it! Overall I loved the film: Stunning visuals, it gave me nightmares, and overall it just fucking inspired me to keep making films. I’m giving it an 8 out of 10. I just don’t think this is a movie that I could watch over and over again though.
Owner, Founder, Director, Editor Producer of Kaylex Productions.
Full-Time freelance filmmaker from New Jersey.