I loved Jeff VanderMeer’s Southern Reach books and decided to commemorate the release of Annihilation with a tribute poster. The story follows a team of scientists exploring a strange, foreboding wilderness that previous expeditions never returned from – a great blend of sci-fi, horror, and mystery.
The film differs from the book (and doesn’t spoil it either!) while capturing the story’s essence. The team meets different creatures in the adaptation but surreal visuals and existential dread saturate every reel, as they did every page.
It’s a shame this movie didn’t fare better in theaters but I can understand why it faced an uphill battle. It’s slow and cerebral, with no clear answers, a non-linear structure, and an ambiguous ending. Paramount got some heat for bailing on an international release and selling the rights to Netflix instead. But as Zack Sharf from IndieWire noted:
If viewers are going to demand a studio release a film like “Annihilation” in theaters, then they’re going to have to show studios that films of similar makeup are not financial risks. Hollywood is a reactionary business, so if no one is going to show up to see the “mother!’s” of the world then studios are going to stop taking chances on them, or at least find a way to limit the financial risks of releasing them (hello, Netflix).
I didn’t see Blade Runner 2049 in theaters so I’ll admit I’m part of the problem. Still, I think it’s good advice to keep in mind. Annihilation is a surreal, thought-provoking, creepy film punctuated by moments of shocking, unexpected horror. It features stellar acting, creepy visuals, and loud, haunting sound design. Seeing it on the big screen was a real treat, so I hope Hollywood gives stories like these one more shot.