One of the most criminally underseen films of 2018 so far is Annihilation from writer/director Alex Garland, which blended sci-fi, horror, and existential themes to create one of the more ambitious genre films of recent years. Of the film's many astonishing feats, possibly the most talked-about element was a monstrously mutated bear, which attacked the film's protagonists and both looked and sounded like no creature seen before in a horror film.
In the film, based on the novel by Jeff VanderMeer, a group of researchers enters an otherworldly area on earth where the DNA of everything inside it has begun to blend together, creating plants that resemble humans, alligators that feature shark biology, and a bear that has begun to mutate into a human. The poor lighting of the film added for an atmospherically alarming sequence, though the well-lit creature might possibly be more terrifying, as seen in the tweet below.
I cannot get over the design of the bear from Annihilation pic.twitter.com/gMiwZgXhll— Dan (@scottIang) April 10, 2018
The human biology is much more obvious in the photos above, and those audiences who saw the film know that the impact of our species on the creature was much more than its anatomy.
During the bear's appearance, viewers were horrified to hear a combination of both animalistic roars and human screams, as everything in "The Shimmer" began to mutate together, resulting in emotions transferring into other creatures in addition to anatomy.
Visual effects supervisor Andrew Whitehurst described his process of developing the creature, which incorporated multiple pieces of inspiration to create the horrifying beast.
"We wanted to suggest the idea that some of [Tuva Novotny’s character] Sheppard’s DNA is somehow added into the bear, and maybe other humans it has encountered previously are part of it also," Whitehurst shared with The Verge. "So we were struggling to come up with a clear visual way of describing that. One of the concept artists, in a piece of 3D software, got a scan of a bear skull and a scan of a human skull, and literally just mashed the two together. We looked at that and went, 'Yeah, okay, that’s horrible. That’s gonna work.'"
The visual effects team also included various elements of skin diseases, exposing the bear's skin in certain areas while putting patches of fur in others. The end result is horrifying, though it was a goal of the team to evoke a sense of sympathy.
"It was important to us that it didn’t feel like this killing machine or that all it’s there to do is destroy things," Whitehurst confessed. "We tried to sell the idea that all this mutation, all this physical change, is being forced on these living creatures, and often has a direct consequence on their well-being, which should provoke some sort of response in an audience."
Due to a deal between Paramount Pictures and Netflix, the film is currently available on the streaming service outside of North America. No home video release date had been announced for Annihilation domestically.
Does the creature seem more or less terrifying when fully revealed? Let us know in the comments below or hit up @TheWolfman on Twitter to talk all things horror and Star Wars!
[H/T Twitter, scottlang]