Annihilation ★★½

This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.

This review may contain spoilers.

If Andrei Tarkovsky Could Roll Over in His Grave . . .

Biologist Lena (Natalie Portman) mourns the disappearance of her husband Kane (Oscar Isaac). Suddenly, Kane reappears inside her house. Surprised, she demands answers. Confused, he rambles vague answers until blood pours into a glass of water that he's drinking. On the way to the hospital, government agents capture and detain them at a compound called the Southern Reach. At the compound, Doctor Ventress (Jennifer Jason Leigh) explains to Lena that Kanes' organs are failing from entering the Shimmer, a mysterious zone that will engulf the United States within several months. In the hopes of healing her husband, she enters the Shimmer with four strong, intelligent women.

If anybody enjoys David Lynch movies, moments of body horror, and unique cinematic experiences, then go see this film and ignore my opinion. This film is ambitious, challenging, thought-provoking, and leaves the viewer to decide his or her own answers. Additionally, "Annihilation" conveys a plethora of themes ranging from duality, evolution, annihilation (duh), love (specifically interconnectedness or codependency), biology, and suspicion of our body. The fight scene with the nocturnal bear is outstanding. If only the entire movie was like that. Meaning, this film should be seen several times if anyone can muster the patience and temperament.

As much as this film wants to be in the vein of "Solaris" or "Stalker," "Annihilation" disappoints. Natalie Portman and Oscar Isaac lack chemistry. Every single character appears to be on either Ambien or Xanax. The narrative relies on flashbacks within flashbacks, a great example of bad story structure. The violence, although minor, is ugly (Spoilers: Gina Rodriguez's character gets mauled by a bear, her teeth fly out and her larynx is exposed, a dead body decomposes against a pool wall). All these elements create an experience that is off-putting and fails to give "Annihilation" meaningful impact.