Warning! Spoilers to follow for Annihilation. Come back later if you haven't seen it yet.
With hints of Kubrick and Tarkovsky, Alex Garland's Annihilation is a serious mind-trip of a movie. It has a high concept plot -- a group of scientists enter a mysterious zone to discover the origins of a strange phenomenon -- but by the end of the story it successfully bends your brain into a pretzel. In a purposeful way, it's a movie that is meant to inspire debate about its meanings and themes, but as I recently learned from the writer/director, audiences will get a lot more out of the movie on a second viewing:
This was just one example that Alex Garland tossed out when I had the chance to speak with him and Annihilation star Oscar Isaac earlier this month during the film's Los Angeles press day. I asked the two men if the movie was specifically designed so that audiences will get new readings in repeat viewings, and Garland said that that is absolutely the case -- adding that there are things that movie-goers won't notice until the second go-round.
After discussing the conversation between Lena (Natalie Portman) and Daniel (David Gyasi) at Johns Hopkins at the start of the film, Alex Garland namedropped two more little mind-blowers that you may not have seen in Annihilation this past weekend:
Having now seen Annihilation a second time personally, I can confirm that these are two very cool details. For starters, the tattoo that Oscar Isaac's Kane has on his chest is a bear (y'know, the creature in the movie that screams like a human and winds up tearing Anya's face off). Also, the house that they discover at the end of the second act -- the one with all of the flower people -- has an interior that looks exactly like Lena's house.
Oscar Isaac also offered his thoughts on the question, comparing the movie to his previous collaboration with Alex Garland: 2015's Ex Machina. He pointed out that not only are there little plot threads and Easter eggs in the film, but that there are certain character moments that have a different kind of emotional resonance when you understand the larger context in which the movie puts them. Said Isaac,
As a person who absolutely loved Annihilation, I was excited to return to the film after getting this recommendation from Alex Garland and Oscar Isaac, and I did not leave disappointed. The movie is a truly fascinating piece of work, and I'd highly recommend returning to it when given the opportunity.
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Eric Eisenberg is the Assistant Managing Editor at CinemaBlend. After graduating Boston University and earning a bachelor’s degree in journalism, he took a part-time job as a staff writer for CinemaBlend, and after six months was offered the opportunity to move to Los Angeles and take on a newly created West Coast Editor position. Over a decade later, he's continuing to advance his interests and expertise. In addition to conducting filmmaker interviews and contributing to the news and feature content of the site, Eric also oversees the Movie Reviews section, writes the the weekend box office report (published Sundays), and is the site's resident Stephen King expert. He has two King-related columns.