Annihilation is a 2018 movie with a science fiction elements mixed with horror. The film is directed by Alex Garland and is based on the novel Annihilation by Jeff VanderMeer. I haven’t read the novel and so this review is only of the movie.

The film stars Natalie Portman (Star Wars episodes one, two and three, Thor, Thor: The Dark World, and Pride and Prejudice and Zombies), Jennifer Jason Leigh (The Hateful Eight), Tessa Thompson (Creed), and Oscar Isaac (Star Wars: The Force Awakens, The Last Jedi, and X-Men Apocalypse).

Annihilation is rated R. There are some sexual situations shown from the back, but the rating is mostly due to the horror elements. Click here for a detailed examination of the film’s rating.

After a meteor hits a lighthouse a mysterious shimmer appears and grows in the area around it. Natalie Portman plays Lena, a military veteran, and biologist, who is part of a five-woman team that enters “The Shimmer.” There they discover an environment of strange mutating plants and animals. Annihilation makes us ask, what is the shimmer and what is it trying to do? Is it destroying the world or making something new? I believe that delving into such questions in an entertaining way is the highest form of the science fiction genre and so, I had high hopes for the movie.

However, this film is not just a science fiction philosophical exploration. Annihilation and Alien use the genre in similar ways. Create an enclosed environment and throw in strange inexplicable monsters. Plenty of films mix science fiction and horror, but most of those movies know they are simply horror films in a sci-fi dressing. Annihilation can’t seem to decide.

There is also an adulterous affair subplot. I understand why the writers included it, but it didn’t work for me. That entire subplot could have been handled quicker and better and still achieved the needed tension.

If you don’t mind the sexual liaison and the horror scenes this is a thought-provoking movie. I saw Annihilation with my sons and we spent the entire ride home discussing the meaning of different scenes. However, all that I found compelling about the plot could have been achieved without the affair and graphic horror. This could have easily been a better movie with a PG-13 rating. I’m going to have to say wait and rent the movie.