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YMMV / Annihilation (2018)

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  • Adaptation Displacement: While still a fairly niche product, the film is more well known than the novel series it's based on.
  • Alternative Character Interpretation:
    • The bear, of all things. Fans of the movie are split on whether its roars being mixed with Shepherd's dying screams is a case of It Can Think using her voice to lure in prey, or if they're the unconscious, uncontrollable vocalizations of a fused organism screaming in agony, possibly even as a result of Shepherd's mind still being alive inside it. Or some combination of the two. Generally, the opinion comes down to whichever the viewer finds the most horrifying.
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    • Lena, following the ending. Did she actually survive and escape the Shimmer, albeit with an unknown degree of mutations, and the film as we've been following it is just her trying to remember it as best as she can? Or is she an escaped form of the Humanoid, who pulled a Kill and Replace on Lena and is lying to the Southern Reach about what happened in the Lighthouse? Much the same applies to Kane as well, The fact that the "Kane" who's apparently a clone didn't die with the rest of the Shimmer after Lena destroyed it suggests that at least part of the Shimmer is still alive within Lena.
      • Alternatively, is she an escaped form of the Humanoid, but having absorbed Lena's memories, thinks she's the real one?
      • Yet another possibility is that these are Lena and Kane, but they've had traits of their other squadmates refracted into them by the Shimmer - note that Lena comes home sporting Anya's tattoo, suggesting that the Shimmer isn't even limited to genetic traits in what it refracts. This possibility certainly raises interesting implications for any children they might have, too.
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  • Award Snub: The film was completely overlooked at the 2019 Academy Awards, not even receiving nominations in the music, sound, or technical categories.
  • Awesome Music:
    • Crossing over into Nightmare Fuel, the trailer gives us the Shimmer's own theme song: five notes of somewhat nightmarish, unsettling, alien-sounding music. Just hearing it, one figures this is going to be very iconic in the movie. And it is significant: it's the sound the Humanoid that copies Lena makes as it manhandles her to do so.
    • For more conventional music. the film opens and ends with Crosby, Stills & Nash's Helplessly Hoping to GREAT effect.
  • Critical Dissonance: The film has received critical acclaim, but a more mixed response from audiences, having an 88% critic score and a 66% audience score on Rotten Tomatoes, and the film hasn't exactly done well at the box office. The box office returns were not helped by the film being distributed by Netflix outside North America.
  • Ensemble Dark Horse:
    • Anya and Josie are the most popular characters from the film thanks in part to the performances of their actresses (Gina Rodriguez and Tessa Thompson).
    • THE BEAR. For a non-sentient animal that only appears briefly in the movie proper, it made an enormous impact on audiences thanks to being absolutely horrifying, dangerous, and looks 100% real.
  • Epileptic Trees: Some fans, noticing the rather... familiar-looking creatures of the Shimmer, are making connections between this universe and the universe of Pokemon! Some are even going as far as to say that the film may as well be a prequel of how the Pokemon universe came to be, albeit darker and more dangerous.
  • Fanon: A common theory (supported by many fans, including Mike Stoklasa) is that the pair of floral-antlered deer Lena sees right before she finds Shepherd's body are representations of Shepherd and her daughter, and that the transformative effects of the Shimmer caused Shepherd's mind or body to go into the deer, while her voice went into the bear. This one is quite popular among the fans, not just because it fits with the film's themes of duality, division, and doppelgangers but also because it makes Shepherd's fate at least marginally less horrifying.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight:
    • Padme Amidala and Poe Dameron are husband and wife here, and the expedition is led by a doctor named Ventress.
    • We now have The Mighty Thor's two leading ladies, Jane Foster and Valkyrie, starring in a movie together. Even funnier when it was announced that Portman would reprise her role in a fourth movie, alongside Thompson.
    • A plant-hybrid deer with flowers growing from its antlers? Hmmm, where have we seen that before?
    • Having a Skull for a Head, the mutant bear has drawn some comparisons to the Demon Monkeys from Temple Run.
    • Plant-animal hybrids? Lush forests and flowers? And the natural world itself simultaneously acting as creator and destroyer? Think of the Great Forest Spirit.
  • Nausea Fuel: The unpleasant...fate of the man in Kane's squad. Kane cuts open his stomach with a combat knife (apparently with the man's consent!) to reveal that his intestines have mutated into grotesque eel-like growths. Which then start moving around as if alive.
  • Paranoia Fuel: Given the constant use of cancer as a visual motif and the effect that the shimmer has on the world essentially being a metaphor for cancer, you might feel the urge to have a cancer screening after watching this film.
    • EVERY scene with the bear in it is cause for paranoia fuel. Imagine your close friend screaming for help outside, except when you would go and open the door- you're dead where you stand.
  • Signature Scene: Almost similar to how The Revenant built its hype around it, the mutant bear attack in the cabin here has become a MAJOR highlight for many viewers due to the gruesome concept of a disfigured animal that mimics the death cries of its previous victims, the terrifyingly suspenseful way the scene plays out, and its shockingly brutal conclusion.
  • Spiritual Successor:
    • Ever wanted an adaptation of H. P. Lovecraft's The Colour Out of Space? Look no further. It even beat the official adaptation by two years.
    • The movie is probably the closest thing we'll get to another Stalker (1979) film, though the similarities between the Zone and Area X bring to mind the more aggressive and wild version of the Zone which may eventually cover the entire planet from the video games.
    • A sinister government organization seeking to quarantine a vast anomalous area with bizarre, physics-defying properties and submutations? Mentally assume that Lena and the rest of the team are a Mobile Task Force or D-Class personnel and replace every mention of "Southern Reach" in your mind with "The Foundation", and you pretty much have the best SCP Foundation movie we're ever likely to get.
    • It could also be a sibling-ish adaptation of a Delta Green campaign based around the Hastur Mythos (such as the upcoming Impossible Landscapes campaign book).
    • Or to The Sick Land, which is about an area that corrupts and warps life in it into hybrid creatures and mindfucks the protagonist that is also expanding.
    • To Solaris. A hostile environment that copies whatever things and people coming into it meets a groups of adventurers with personal inner demons. The film and its source material can also be considered to be this or a Spiritual Successor to Stalker (1979), which is also about a small team of people going into a bizarre Eldritch Location that was warped by an alien visit.
    • To Saul Bass's film Phase IV. Scientists move in to surveil a region of the United States overtaken by a malignant biological threat. The threat manifests through numerous visually-striking natural anomalies. Characters are killed off. Eventually the biological threat uses its Hive Mind to transform a man and woman in an underground lair, yielding a bizarre and ambiguous ending which implies mankind is about to be transformed.
    • To some extent, the closest we might get to a film adaptation of Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey, which is also about a military team sent to investigate an otherworldly, rapidly growing anomalous space on earth. For the most part the similarities end there though.
    • To Stand Still, Stay Silent. Again, a small group explores an Eldritch Location masquerading as Scenery Porn that infects and mutates those who enter it. Especially noticeable during the bear attack - its design is remarkably similar to some of the comic's monsters, and its screams for help echo a similar scene in the comic.
    • The mutated bear is similar to the 1979 film The Prophecy, which also had a similar monster as its primary antagonist.
  • Visual Effects of Awesome: Even people who didn't like the movie have admitted that it looks incredible, and despite the relatively low budget (55 million) for a big sci-fi movie, everything about the Shimmer is both unsettlingly disturbing and incredibly beautiful. Then there's the Skull-bear, a creature that looks totally real and convincing (not to mention horrifying).
  • What Do You Mean, It Wasn't Made on Drugs?: Many of the visuals in the movie are seriously trippy, bordering on psychedelic. Combined with the ambiguous and even disorienting plot elements - not to mention the eerie soundtrack - it can certainly feel like a psychedelics-induced experience at times, especially in the third act.