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Release year: 2018
Director: Alex Garland
Screenwriter: Alex Garland, Jeff VanderMeer (based on the novel by)
Starring: natalie Portman, Jennifer Jason leigh, Tessa Thompson, Oscar Isaac, Gina Rodriguez, Tuva Novotny, David Gyasi
When the missing husband of biologist Lena (Portman) returns a changed and sick man after entering a strange area under alien influence, Lena volunteers to the next expedition to try and find out, just what happened to him.
British director Garland (Ex machina, 2014) is known for making horror as well as psychological unnerving movies and is a good choice to tackle the combination of the two in the adaptation of VanderMeer’s novel. Isaac (Inside Llewyn Davis, 2013) has a part so small the excellent actor almost feels underused, but the part is still rather significant and Isaac does a good job as the perplexed husband returning to Lena. Immediately giving the movie an unsettling feeling, the tone changes to wonder as the expedition enters the infected area before moving further and further back into unnerving as they get closer to the answers. Portman (Black Swan, 2010) and it is nice to see Leigh has returned to more meaty roles after Tarantino made sure she was rediscovered with The Hateful Eight (2015). The two of them are strong female leads that ensures you won’t wonder why the expedition consists of only females, you simply won’t think about it. It’s an ambitious movie, so strange it could as easily had been a miss, but Garland manages to keep you interested and guessing though he most fight not to lose you in a climax that leaves you wondering what’s going on. It may drive some people away, but sci-fi fans may thrill at this mind-expanding mystery or they may consider it pretentious and silly. Definitely one to divide the audience.
The movie is based on the first book in ‘The Southern Reach’ trilogy.