Annihilation (film)  

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Annihilation is a 2018 science fiction psychological horror film written and directed by Alex Garland, based on the novel of the same name by Jeff VanderMeer. It stars Natalie Portman, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Gina Rodriguez, Tessa Thompson, Tuva Novotny, and Oscar Isaac. The story follows a group of military scientists who enter "The Shimmer", a mysterious quarantined zone of mutating landscapes and transmogrifying creatures.


At a top secret U.S. government facility codenamed Area X, cellular biology professor and Army veteran Lena is questioned after returning as the sole survivor of an expedition to an anomalous zone known as the "Shimmer". Three years prior, the Shimmer emerged from a meteor that landed inside a lighthouse on the coast of the southern United States, and is gradually expanding its boundaries. Lena's husband Kane, a Green Beret, was part of an earlier expedition and reappears at their home after a year of absence, unable to explain where he was or how he came back. His condition quickly deteriorates and Lena calls an ambulance, but they are intercepted by security forces and taken to Area X. With Kane in intensive care, a government psychologist, Dr. Ventress, shows Lena the Shimmer and explains that many exploratory teams have entered, but only Kane has ever returned. Ventress prepares to lead a new scientific expedition into the Shimmer, consisting of Lena, physicist Josie Radek, geomorphologist Cassie "Cass" Sheppard, and paramedic Anya Thorensen.

The group enters the Shimmer, and Lena has a vision of her past affair with a colleague, which occurred prior to Kane's disappearance. When the group awakens after suddenly falling unconscious, they find their communications and navigation equipment no longer function, approximately three to four days have passed, and they do not remember anything after entering the Shimmer. They encounter mutated plants and animals, and Josie is attacked by an albino alligator with rows of shark-like teeth but survives. At an abandoned military base, they find a video message from Kane's expedition, showing him trying to perform field surgery on another soldier's abdomen only to find his intestines moving on their own. The group finds the soldier's corpse, now covered by an overgrown colony of lichens.

At night, the base is attacked by a mutant bear that drags Cass away, and Lena later finds her mutilated remains. Reaching an abandoned village, they discover plants that have taken on human-like forms. Josie theorizes that the Shimmer functions as a prism for DNA, distorting and transforming everything within its boundaries, and that the group is already beginning to mutate. Anya, overcome with paranoia after watching the patterns of her fingerprints change, ties up the others and accuses Lena of murdering Cass. The bear lures Anya away by emitting a cry for help in Cass's voice and kills her by tearing her jaw off. Josie frees herself and shoots the bear dead.

Ventress, who has terminal cancer and is determined to learn the truth behind the Shimmer before she dies, leaves alone for the lighthouse. Josie and Lena realize that the Shimmer's “refractions” are already inside their bodies; Josie shares her opinion that Cass's dying mind was "refracted" into the bear, and wanders off before her body transforms into plant matter. Lena, believing that Kane deliberately accepted the suicide mission into the Shimmer because she cheated on him, reaches the lighthouse and discovers his remains and another video message. In the footage, Kane tells the man filming to find Lena, and commits suicide with an incendiary grenade; the other man is revealed to be an alien doppelgänger who assumed Kane's identity.

Lena descends into the hole created by the meteor and finds Ventress, who reveals that the forces behind the Shimmer will spread to encompass everything. She then disintegrates into a glowing nebulous structure that absorbs a drop of blood from Lena's face, creating a humanoid entity that mimics Lena's motions. Unable to escape the entity as it mirrors her, Lena hands it one of her phosphorus grenades, and it transforms into an identical copy of her. Lena activates the grenade and flees from the lighthouse, but the creature does not follow. Set ablaze by the grenade, the creature affectionately touches Kane's burned body before crawling back into the hole and igniting the core of the lighthouse. Lena watches as the constructs of the Shimmer collapse, and it fades away.

At the facility, Lena's interviewer reveals that Kane has recovered after the Shimmer vanished. Lena visits him, and asks if he is really Kane; he replies, "I don't think so". He asks if she is Lena, and she does not answer. Kane embraces Lena, and their irises shimmer.


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