Annihilation is the new science film from Ex Machina writer-director Alex Garland and stars Natalie Portman as a biologist and military veteran named Lena. Portman’s character is part of a five-person team sent into the weird world of “the Shimmer,” an area of America which has been taken over by a seemingly extraterrestrial force. Garland deliberately set out to construct a dream-like film, with the exploratory team encountering ever more strange sights, including a diverse array of threatening creatures, as they travel deeper into the Shimmer. Appropriately enough, the director recalls the practical effects-heavy shoot, which mostly took place in the British countryside around the town of Windsor, as something of a nightmare.
“It was unpleasant because it was so difficult,” says the filmmaker, whose movie costars Jennifer Jason Leigh, Tessa Thompson, Gina Rodriguez, and Oscar Isaac. “It was just so difficult. Ex Machina, for example, was a much cheaper film, it was $15 million, instead of $40 million. But on a day-by-day level, we had more time and more resources. Annihilation, was trying to do a film 10 times as complicated with two-and-a-half times the budget. And that was tough. It was just tough.”
Did Garland find himself dreaming about the Shimmer at night?
“No,” says the director. “I can’t even remember what I was dreaming. I think I was just out like a light!”
Annihilation is released this Friday. Watch the film’s trailer, above.