At least one person has seen Alex Garland’s highly anticipated next film, and that person's opinion carries some weight.
We're talking about author Jeff VanderMeer, and the movie in question is Annihilation, Garland's adaptation of the first book in Vandermeer's eerie Southern Reach trilogy. Garland wrote the script and is directing the film, making it his second effort behind the camera following the stunning Ex Machina (which he penned the original screenplay for as well), and anticipation for it has been high ever since it was announced.
Annihilation does not have a release date yet, and it appears that Paramount Pictures is going to wait until 2018 to unleash this thing on the world. However, VanderMeer had a chance to see an early cut of the film and spoke about it on the podcast The Watch (via The Film Stage/Collider):
“It’s actually more surreal than the novel. There are a couple places where I was like, ‘I might need an anchor here.’ The ending is so mind-blowing and in some ways different from the book that it seems to be the kind of ending that, like 2001 or something like that, people will be talking about around the watercooler for years... visually, it’s amazing. I must say that and that’s all I probably should say.”
But VanderMeer did offer a bit more on his Facebook page after that interview:
“I’m not really sure what I’m allowed to say about it or not say about it, so I’ll keep it simple... I’m still composing my thoughts and feelings about it. I can tell you it’s mind-blowing, surreal, extremely beautiful, extremely horrific, and it was so tense that our bodies felt sore and beat-up afterwards.”
Nice. As anyone who has read the novel can attest, Annihilation is one hell of a creepy, unsettling book, and to hear that Garland -- who has also churned out excellent scripts for films like Sunshine, Dredd and Never Let Me Go -- has captured and even amped up the super-weird tone of the source material only makes one wish the movie were coming out sooner.
Both the book and novel follow an expedition of four women -- a biologist, an anthropologist, a psychologist and a surveyor -- who journey into a mysterious zone that has appeared on an unnamed portion of U.S. coastline. Within the zone, called "Area X," abnormal activity, unknown forms of life and grotesque mutations have been observed, while 11 previous expeditions have ended in disappearance, death -- both murder and suicide -- disease or worse.
The film stars Natalie Portman, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Tessa Thompson, Gina Rodriguez and Oscar Isaac. While we're sure VanderMeer was first and foremost just pleased to see his work come to the screen, we're hopeful -- based on Garland's track record -- that the movie he saw is close to the same one we get to see sometime in the next year.