Garland Talks “Annihilation” Cut Sequence

Alex Garland’s “Annihilation” has made more headlines for its distribution deal than its release in U.S. cinemas recently. Critics may have loved it, but audiences weren’t happy with the film judging by a weak CinemaScore and poor box-office.

Those who’ve seen it and have read Jeff VanderMeer’s novel which served as the source material have confirmed the film is very much its own thing, and quite different to the book. It’s certainly a mood piece with a focus on being eerie and atmospheric, and speaking with Collider, Garland revealed that he cut an extended ten-minute sequence from the start of the movie.

The scene in question had Natalie Portmanā€˜s Lena first encountering The Shimmer in an entirely different way:

“It’s this weird thing that happens in a script to seeing it, that things make sense sometimes when you’re reading it, but when you watch it, it immediately stops making sense.

Essentially what happens in the sequence is that Natalie Portman, quite early on in the film is locked in a sort of chamber where she first meets Dr. Ventress and when Ventress leaves, Natalie’s character Lena is stuck there and she escapes from that chamber and knocks out a guard, takes his gun, shoots her way through a glass door, makes her way through the facility and finally busts out and sees the shimmer for the first time.

It created a problem that her character goes from a state of real adversity with this corporation to then being taken on a mission to this place, and it’s a weird U-turn. And actually, it made more sense that she says I want to see this thing, and Ventress says OK and takes her to see it.”

Garland revealed he didn’t have to reshoot the scene, rather he simply re-edited the material and the result was pretty seamless:

“You use the dialogue, you do a hard cut, you take a little bit of film where she’s walking in her escape but she’s slowed down, she’s not running at that point, she’s walking and you use that bit, you do another hard cut to her stepping out and seeing the shimmer for the first time. Then, the sequence is gone and it makes more logical character sense.”

“Annihilation” is now out in cinemas in the United States and Canada. The film is slated to launch around the rest of the world (bar China) on March 12th on Netflix.