Annihilation (Film) is a superb psychological study in the form of science fiction horror. One that would provide for many hours of debate.
Annihilation (Film) Synopsis
The disappearance of Lena’s husband, Kane, leaves her devastated. One day, while Lena struggles to repaint the bedroom, Kane inexplicably returns home, with no memory at all of what happened. After Kane suddenly falls ill, both of them are intercepted by security forces and brought to Area X, where Lena meets the enigmatic psychologist Dr. Ventress. Ventress then shares with Lena what happened during Kane’s last covert mission. Kane went MIA after entering an expanding anomaly known simply as The Shimmer.
At the risk of discounting my own credibility, I’d share that in recent years, I’ve largely shied away from “thinking” movies. When I go to the cinema nowadays, I look for a laugh or a kick. Seldom a bucketful of ambiguous afterthoughts.
In other words, I currently prefer entertainment over philosophy. Very much so too. And so when I say Annihilation (2018) succeeded in keeping me glued to the screen for two hours, that should give you a good idea of just how well-crafted this thoughtful masterpiece is
Simply put, this is a mandala story in the guise of science-fiction horror. An intricately woven tapestry in which every bit of dialogue, backstory, and characterisation works in tandem to explain what The Shimmer is. (Or should I say, what The Shimmer represents?)
A cold analysis also flows beneath all the otherworldly landscapes and monsters. One that is completely about how annihilation, or destruction, dictates the lives of all the leads.
This analysis concludes with a somewhat pompous sequence, one that I suspect might be too mystifying and discordant to some viewers. That said, give it enough thought, read some of the more detailed explanations available online, and the “truth” should present itself.
Think about it deep enough and you might even see yourself mirrored in some of the characters. Hopefully, hopefully, this doesn’t distress you too much. Or prevents you from considering a change.
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Annihilation’s Ending Explained
For your convenience, here’s a link to a most detailed breakdown of the story.
The movie states that The Shimmer is an extra-terrestrial prism capable of refracting and blending organic DNA. To this, I’d add that it seems that The Shimmer is also able of amplifying the personalities and dispositions of those within it.
The movie states that The Shimmer is an extra-terrestrial prism capable of refracting and blending organic DNA. To this, I’d add it seems that The Shimmer is also able of amplifying the personalities and dispositions of those within it.
This ability is not obvious with secondary characters. However, Ventress, Lena, and Kane are clearly affected.
- Ventress’ obsession to uncover the truth about The Shimmer is intensified to the extent that she becomes completely oblivious to the predicaments of her comrades. Her subconscious willingness for the quest to consume her is also reflected in her final statement.
- Lena’s destructive inclinations are repeatedly hinted at throughout the movie, and I don’t just mean her affair. She lured Thorensen, Radek, and Sheppard into heading deeper into The Shimmer instead of escaping, despite knowing the anomalies intensify the closer they get to the source. Also, it seems the case she ultimately did not inform Area X that the Kane who returned is a doppelganger. It’s chilling to imagine what she subconsciously has in mind.
- It’s clear that Kane chose to enter The Shimmer out of (self-destructive) disappointment with Lena. Did this in turn lead to him committing suicide in such a horrific fashion? Also, and I might be reading too much into this, he seems near gleeful when he vivisected his comrade. Was this brought on by his craving to understand people beneath their skin, a desire birthed by the discovery of his wife’s infidelity?