Annihilation is an all female-led science fiction film about guilt, biology, and the human tendency for self-destruction. So I guess its no wonder Paramount dumped it on Netflix after loosing sleep over its box-office appeal.
It copped some controversy after being caught up in a battle between the studio and director Alex Garland (Ex Machina) for being “too intellectual.” While financially the studio’s fears were confirmed, visually its damn lucky they didn’t water it down. This is a film with a cool plot and some downright lush visuals.
Natalie Portman is Lena, a cellular biology professor who is recruited along with four others to study a quarantine zone in a swampy corner of America called The Shimmer. Lena’s reasons for accepting the mission are more personal than scientific: her military husband is the only person to enter The Shimmer and come out alive. You just know this is going to be a twofold journey: a trek through an alien landscape, and the dark emotional landscape of the protagonist.
The first scene we’re given after entering The Shimmer is the inside of a tent which feels like an odd and underwhelming decision by the director. But when Lena emerges from the tent and announces she remembers nothing since passing through the shimmery wall, it feels like the perfect way to introduce this strange new world.
Without giving too much away, something is seriously not right within The Shimmer. As the scientists begin to join the dots, the film shifts gears into “thriller” mode. But don’t get too excited; while there are some excellent tension-filled scenes – one in particular involving a bear-creature that echoes screams of agony from its latest victim – Annihilation never crosses fully into the horror genre. It’s an enjoyable ride, but nothing to write home about.
It’s the ending that’s the kicker. Garland tackles some complex conceptual territory (at least for this High School Science flunker) that will probably require a debrief with a mate, or at the very least a quick Google. Up until this point Annihilation was lingering dangerously close to being mediocre, but the last few scenes cement it as a Sci-Fi classic.
So is it as amazing as you’ve heard? Probably not. Should you see it? Absolutely.
– Ellin Williams
Veronica. Went into this film after reading articles about people who couldn’t sit through the whole thing.
Too scary. Too terrifying. Based on a true story. Too real. Mummy hold my hand… that kind of thing.
So, maybe I’m the exception. Maybe I watch too many horror films and I’ve become immune to the horrors of a Ouija bored (slightly concerning).
However, I was no where near having to switch it off. Far from it. Veronica had me glued to the screen from start to finish. It’s what horror film dreams are made of.
I’d run off into the sunset with this film if I could. Finally, a horror to arrest the recent run of iffy films on Netflix. Your horror film prayers have been answered.
The Spanish horror directed by Paco Plaza ([rec])is set in 1991 Madrid. Sandra Escacena gives an eerily intense performance as Veronica, a 15-year-old schoolgirl who cares for her siblings while her mother works round the clock at a local café.
Veronica rounds up a few pals for a Ouja board sesh during a solar eclipse in hope of contacting her late father. Then, things go haywire. DUN DUN DUNN.
It’s not an original story. It’s conjuring-ish, exorcism-esque you get the idea.
However, Veronica is a thematic patchwork. An exploration of the inner landscape of a teenager who has lost her father and has had to grow up all too quickly.
She is pulled and pushed by different forces throughout the film, not only by the spirit haunting her but also the fatigue and parental solitude forced upon her by her mother.
The demon acts as a specter for unwanted maturity. Her innocence and stunted growth are highlighted when we discover that Veronica is yet to have her first period. This symbolism is carried throughout in various scare-rific ways.
In one of the most chilling scenes in the film, Veronica imagines herself being eaten alive by her brothers and sisters.
A terrifying metaphor for how working class families had to disassemble in order to function.
Good luck getting that creepy image out your head for the next three days. Opt for vegetarian snacks.
The cinematography in Veronica is beautiful. Plaza and his team stay away from the stark, realist lighting of most modern horror films.
The lighting gives us a phantasmal mix of the surreal and reality. I find films are more chilling when they feel real. Veronica feels real.
Its in Spanish too, how real can you get? Plaza has hit the nail on the head with highlighting that Veronica is a true story.
See? Horror films aren’t always small budgets and cheap scares. Veronica is certainly not profound or ground breaking but its nice to know that some good old fashioned metaphors lurk beneath. Veronica has meat on its bones.
– Breana Garratt