Whether you loved it, hated it, or merely want to figure out what the hell the "The Shimmer" is, Annihilation dominated most of social media chatter in the week since its release. Fans will often criticize a film for feeling too similar to predecessors, yet in the case of Annihilation, fans have seemingly been commending how the narrative drew upon a variety of sci-fi films that came before it and combining them in a way that still felt unique.
Inspired by a novel of the same name, Annihilation follows a group of researchers heading into "The Shimmer," a quarantined corner of Florida that is encompassed by a translucent bubble that grows slightly larger by the day. In the three years since The Shimmer appeared, no team has ever returned from their expedition, until one man (Oscar Isaac) mysteriously returns home, causing his wife (Natalie Portman) to join the next mission so she can learn what happened to her husband, whose mental and physical well-being have been compromised.
If you're looking for more sci-fi films that have a lot in common with Annihilation or perhaps you want to learn more about the film's inspirations, track down these films!
While Annihilation may have been inspired by the novel from Jeff VanderMeer, writer/director Alex Garland merely used the story as a jumping-off point, with his film delving into drastically different narrative and thematic realms. In that regard, Annihilation is virtually its own original film that tackles themes of humanity in a sci-fi narrative, much like Garland's previous film, Ex Machina.
In the film, a famous and reclusive inventor invites a computer programmer to witness his latest invention, a robot that blurs the line between human and machine so well that it calls the programmer's perspective into question.
If you enjoyed Annihilation's exploration of the self-destructive nature of humanity, you'll enjoy Garland's previous exploration of what it means to be human in the first place.prevnext
Some audiences grew frustrated with Annihilation's complex themes that weren't always explicitly explained, while other audiences appreciated the narrative expecting the audience to figure things out for themselves. Luckily, audiences had been somewhat prepared for unraveling the narrative thanks to 2016's Arrival.
Following the appearance of alien craft at various places throughout the world, teams of researchers had to attempt to figure out how to communicate with the beings through a written language. As various teams begin to crack the code, they discover that not only will these encounters change their perception of language, but also reality as we know it.
If you like watching a movie and then immediately attempting to unravel it, then Arrival has got your fix.prevnext
During an expedition of an uncharted planet, a research vessel accidentally encounters an alien lifeform. The creature attaches itself to the face of a crewmember, with the rest of the team bringing the scientist on board and the creature with him. The researcher seemingly recovers, only for the team to discover their horrors have only just begun, as the matured creature lurks in the shadows of the ship.
Many of Alien's sequels leaned more heavily into the action of the series, yet this original installment is slow-paced and displays restraint in turning the film into a full-blown battle between humans and the otherworldly beings.prevnext
One of the overall concepts of Annihilation is that the animals found within The Shimmer aren't exactly what they appear to be. While some of the creatures somewhat resemble familiar animals, something about them seems off, making the researchers wonder what's happening to them.
In John Carpenter's The Thing, a group of researchers at an Antarctic base offers refuge to a dog from a different research team, only for the dog to begin to attack other canines in its kennel and morph into a horrifying monster. Throughout the film, we learn that the dog was infected by an otherworldly being that could replicate any animal it comes into contact with.
A defining film in the special effects community, The Thing offered audiences macabre creations that felt like things of nightmares while also displaying familiar traits.prevnext
'Under the Skin'
Many of the elements in Annihilation can be explained and accounted for, while certain other elements require a suspension of disbelief and willingness to not comprehend all the answers. That ambiguity is out in full force with the sci-fi seduction of Under the Skin.
As a young woman roams Scotland, she entices men to follow her home. While there, they succumb to a black void, seemingly emptying them our their essence. The woman, who clearly isn't a woman at all, grows tired of the ordeal and heads to the rural countryside, hoping to finally become the creatures that she's been emulating.
An aural and visual feast, the cinematography of Under the Skin is captivating while its score is haunting. The film might not be easy to describe, but it's one you'll never forget.prevnext
Annihilation delivered audiences plenty of sophisticated sci-fi themes, while we shouldn't forget it's heavy sci-fi roots. The film falls into predictable realms for the genre at points, harkening back to the adaptation of Michael Crichton's novel Sphere.
Following the discovery of an underwater, well, sphere, a group of scientists embark on a journey to discover its origins. The more time they spend near the object, the more nightmarish encounters they begin to have, with the sphere itself somehow being a conduit for the various horrifying things that can be imagined.
Audiences need to reject their notions of reality for Annihilation much like we had to forget the rules of reality while watching Sphere, a campy late '90s sci-fi film that's entertaining if not thought-provoking.prevnext
Other films on this list are more contemporary or are considered classics, with Andrei Tarkovsky's 1979 film possibly being outside of some audiences' wheelhouses.1comments
In an unknown place in an unknown time, there is a region referred to as "The Zone" which is reportedly a post-apocalyptic nightmare. A guide offers to take a writer and a scientist inside The Zone to discover The Room, an area in which all of your desires are said to be granted so long as you can survive the journey to get there.
The overall similarities in narrative structures create a resemblance between the two films, with Tarkovsky being one of the most prominent filmmakers of his time when it came to boundary-pushing science fiction. While Stalker might not be a "fun" watch, it's a rewarding experience for anyone willing to embark on the journey to unravel it.prev