Alex Garland Talks His “Annihilation” Prep

Hot off the success of this year’s thought-provoking sci-fi drama “Ex Machina,” filmmaker Alex Garland is prepping his next project – a film adaptation of Jeff VanderMeer’s acclaimed 2014 novel “Annihilation”.

The story follows four people – a biologist, an anthropologist, a psychologist, and a surveyor – who set out on an expedition into ‘Area X,’ the twelfth such expedition into the mysterious, uninhabited and abandoned area that nature has begun to reclaim. Previous expeditions have been disastrous – fraught with disappearances, suicides, aggressive cancers, and mental trauma.

That book, which won the 2014 Nebula award and the 2014 Shirley Jackson Award for best novel, is the first in a trilogy. Out doing press for the DVD/Blu-ray release of “Ex Machina,” Garland spoke with io9 about the progress of his film version and says he’s deep in pre-production:

“That’s my day job at the moment. Early on this week, I was on a location recce. We’re getting to the point where you’re thinking about the practicalities. If we manage to get that going, it would be shooting in, I think, April of next year. So we’d go in to prep in January and shoot in April.”

The big question is how will ‘Area X’ be represented on screen – a strange lush wilderness being reshaped by some kind of alien influence? Garland won’t say, but he does suggest this won’t be as loyal to the book as a previous high profile adaptation he did:

“What I’d say is, that I’ve worked on different kinds of adaptations in the past. One of them was called Never Let Me Go, which was based on a book by Kazuo Ishiguro. Relatively speaking, what that film did was it kind of held up a mirror to the book. It was a slightly distorting mirror, in some respects, but basically it’s holding up a mirror – a sort of movie mirror, I guess.

[Annihilation] is not doing that. This is not tightly adhering to the beats of the novel in the same way. It’s a looser adaptation. Let me put it this way: If you saw the film, you’d know what it was based on. I can say that. But that’s presumptuous of me-if I get to make the film, and you saw the film, and you’d read the book, you’d say, ‘This is based on Annihilation.’ So it’s not that loose.” But it’s not as close a copy as Never Let Me Go was.”

No word on potential casting or a release date for the movie has yet been revealed.