Annihilation Soporific Cinema with Psychedelics

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Annihilation Blu-ray

Today I find myself tasked with trying to relate to you, dear reader, the plot and feelings involved in ALEX GARLAND's cinematic soporific, ANNIHILATION.

Slowly paced, quietly executed, chronologically splintered, ANNIHILATION addresses the self-destructive tendencies in people and magnifies that to an unexplainable alien event. I began to identify with the premise, as I started to wish I were dead myself as we plodded through quicksand toward the finish line, much like Lena (NATALIE PORTMAN) toward that iconic lighthouse where it all begins and ends.

To encapsulate: Earth has been hit by a rock. Not a big rock. Just an average sized rick. It hit the lighthouse and didn't even knock it over -- just bored right into it and into the ground below it. After which, things began to change and a shimmer effect surrounded the lighthouse, growing slowly to encompass more and more area (but only surface area, not overall volume, apparently, as we don't see a dome shape nor do we have to explain how the shimmer was thus kept hidden from aerial surveillance and satellites.) The military sends teams in to investigate, and nobody comes out. Except one: Sgt Kane (OSCAR ISAAC) returns with little memory of what went on inside or how he survived it. And his organs are failing rapidly, causing him to be placed into quarantine.

To the rescue comes his wife, Lena, a former soldier turned PhD biologist with a specialization in cellular division. She's put on an all-female team, possibly because Garland had seen the latest GHOSTBUSTERS and thought it was a smashing idea, inclusing a psychologist (JENNIFER JASON LEIGH) who leads the team and three other placeholders who eventually all get killed off as they discover that what's going on inside the shimmer is the result of combining cellular mutation with new age psychology.

Fortunately for all of humankind, Lena makes it to the lighthouse, finds the source of all the problems, and blows it up, because that's how we win.

Tonally and visually, ANNIHILATION reminds me of Jonathan Glazer's UNDER THE SKIN, only with a bigger budget for light shows but not so much for creature effects. It's not the kind of film you walk out of feeling energized or unsettled, but rather the kind where you consider what else was showing that you could have seen instead.

2.5 / 5.0