A movie we’ve been looking forward to for some time is Alex Garland’s Annihilation, based on the crazy, critically acclaimed Jeff VanderMeer book of the same name. Well, there’s good news and bad news. The bad news is it won’t be out until 2018. The good news is the first footage was excellent.
Annihilation is the story of a team of women (Natalie Portman, Gina Rodriguez, Tessa Thompson, and Jennifer Jason Leigh) who lead a group to a mysterious alien section of planet Earth. Called Area X, it’s a place many have gone to explore, but one which no one has ever come back from.
At CinemaCon in Las Vegas, Paramount Pictures debuted the first footage from the film. The setting is a typical suburban house. Inside it is Natalie Portman’s character, and she’s crying. She’s lost someone and seems to be packing up or fixing the house to move out. Then, a man starts to walk up the stairs. It’s Oscar Isaac’s character, who just so happens to be the man Portman thought was dead. She’s stunned, excited, confused, and runs up to kiss him. But he’s almost not there. Unaware. Cold. Not kissing her back.
We move downstairs to the kitchen table where Isaac is sitting absolutely still with a full glass of water in front of him. She explains that he’s been missing for a year. No one knew where he was or what happened. He just disappeared. She asks if his mission was covert and he says “Maybe,” then “Yes.” She asks where he was and he says he doesn’t know where he was. “How is that possible?” she asks. “You must be able to tell me something,” she adds, now getting frustrated. “Does it matter?” he asks in a super creepy way. That shakes her but, finally, he’s about to open up.
“I was outside the room. The room with the bed. I saw you and recognized you. I recognized your face,” he says, which is very confusing to everyone. He takes a sip of water and says he’s not feeling well, which is when we see the blood. Portman’s character calls and ambulance and they’re off to the hospital. Isaac is convulsing, obviously very sick, and then three black SUVs stop the ambulance.
They break in, take them both out, and knock out Portman. She wakes up in some kind of hospital or prison with Jennifer Jason Leigh’s character. “Where’s my husband, I want to see a lawyer!” she says. We get a quick shot of Isaac’s character and it looks like he has silver makeup around his eyes in the hospital. Finally, Leigh’s character tells Portman’s what going on.
She explains there was an event. Maybe religious, maybe alien, they don’t know. Now there’s a mysterious area of the planet. They keep sending people there but no one has come back, she explains. “Now something has,” Portman says, referring to Isaac. “I need to know what’s inside.”
Portman then joins a team as they head into the area. This is when the footage sped up, mostly because I’m sure these parts of the movie are still being worked on. But here are a few of the images I remember. We see her and the other cast members walking towards almost like a blurry section of land. There’s a shot of Portman with a machine gun. A shot from inside some kind of big creature’s mouth of Jennifer Jason Leigh. People in a yard that seems to be made of vines. A vine-like substance growing on someone’s arm. Lights and colors and flashes that kind of looked like 2001. And that was that.
Annihilation does not have a release date outside of the vague “2018.” But I can’t wait to see what Garland does with the material. This early look had such a creepy tension to it, I was immediately sucked in.