Well, Annihilation. But I like saying it like a monster truck, or a wrestler. Just caught it at the cineplex. It’s a good time. Here’s some un-spoilerfree bullet points on/about it, since I don’t really have any kind of thesis to build a proper write-up around:
- the skull-faced anteater bear does what the bear did in The Revenant: steals the show in the best way. And? It talks like the flowers in The Ruins do. Which is always a bonus.
- this adaptation—and, note, I’m talking about the film here, not Jeff VanderMeer’s novel (though this bulletpoint does go for both, I guess)—is built right on the scaffolding of Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House. Just, it’s a Haunting via Solaris, that leaves you feeling kind of Under the Skin-y, and it does it with all the same silence The Arrival used so well (the recent one, not the Charlie Sheen one, though I do prefer the Charlie Sheen one).
- this also very much shares a build with “The Lonesome Death of Jordy Verrill,” from Creepshow. I mean, it’s got the meteorite, the plants. Just shake a kaleidoscope real close to your eye and there you are at Annihilation.
- this also conjures John Carpenter’s The Thing, yes? I mean, it was all men, this is all women, but a lot of the movements—tied to chairs, can’t trust your buds, an alien that changes shape—are very similar. In a good way. Not much better than The Thing.
- Area X is kind of Marvel’s The Savage Land AND Genosha, yes (okay, with some Skull Island, maybe)? Also, what’s with ‘other places’ these last few years? The Further, the Upside-Down, maybe the Sunken Place (though that’s maybe different). Did it all start with Danny Phantom and the Phantom Zone? I like to think so. But I guess there’s always Labyrinth, too.
- I imagine that in a few years we’ll be reading Annihilation—both the film and the novel again—as some kind of CRISPR warning. And that’s not a KFC term. Though I don’t doubt they’re using CRISPR to up the yield a bit, in the most healthy way.
- Anybody remember that television show from the early 2000s, Invasion? For some reason the ending of this conjured that for me. But it may have been the Nicole Kidman The Invasion, too (also aliens). Something about golden eyes. I just can’t remember exactly what. Well, either that or I’m jumping from Kidman in The Invasion to her in The Golden Compass, and that’s leaving me with ‘golden’ in the eye . . . But I have seen golden eyes + alien surprise SOMEWHERE. I mean, there’s a fun giveaway eye-trick at the end of Supernova, yeah, but that’s different (for more like this). Too, I was talking to someone after the movie, and he TOLD me where these golden eyes were from, and I somehow managed to immediately forget.
- “You will be assimilated.” Any alien movie that doesn’t end with some version of this, how’s it supposed to be any fun, right?
Anyway, yes, go see this. It’s a good time. Some cool imagery/visuals (the flower deer alone are worth the price of your ticket), and it’s excellent seeing an all-women cast. Haven’t seen that since . . . the Pitch Perfects? Bridesmaids? Ghostbusters? The Descent? They’re coming faster and faster, and that’s a good thing for movies.
Also good for movies—knowing your roots, and showing them off: