Tessa Thompson’s most disturbing movie scene
The ‘Annihilation’ Bear Scene Is The Best Sci-Fi Horror Moment In Decades
Annihilation is a weird movie that defies expectations. Part sci-fi escapade and heartbreaking horror, Alex Garland’s film takes us to the edge of reality to explore what makes us human. It’s a haunting film that gets you under your skin, but one scene could be more disturbing than even that explosive finale. Of course, I’m talking about the “bear” scene, the scariest sci-fi horror moment this side of the original Alien trilogy.
Annihilation follows Natalie Portman’s Lena as she abandons her college career to join a top-secret mission to a mysterious location known as “The Shimmer.” The team she joins is full of brilliant scientists and ex-military officers, but what she’s hiding from the group is that she’s going to find out what happened to her husband Kane (Oscar Isaac) during a… a previous mission. Once inside “The Shimmer”, the team – which includes Jennifer Jason Leigh’s Dr. Ventress, Gina Rodriguez’s Anya, Tessa Thompson’s Josie and Tuva Novotny’s Cass – discover that nothing within the bounds of this phenomenon constantly expanding only makes sense. The Shimmer scrambles DNA, turning people into flowers and turning natural predators like bears and alligators into evil monstrosities.
The “bear” scene takes place a little after the middle of the film. At this point Cass has been killed and Anya begins to show signs of a nervous breakdown. This is how the scene begins with the unhinged Anya tying up the rest of the survivors and threatening them. In particular, she is angry at Lena for lying about Kane. Now, here’s what makes this long streak so brilliant: It starts with the internal tension that’s eating away at the team. But all those fears disappear when the bear-like monster appears.
The editing is awesome. Due to Anya’s actions, Ventress, Lena, and Josie are tied up and unable to escape the bear’s attack. They must remain perfectly still at all costs, although the watching viewer may feel compelled to fidget and hide. The “bear” itself is a next-level creation of horror that sticks in the jaws of your nightmares. It’s not just that the bear looks grotesque – its head alone looks like an unholy cross between a dinosaur and the skull of a rotting mammal – but that the animal picks up the screams of its prey.
When the “bear” growls or brays, the women hear the cries of pain from their fallen comrade, Cass. In fact, it’s her voice that pulls Anya into her destruction. And that’s where I think Alex Garland does best: he shows us all the bloody carnage of what’s to come. He doesn’t shyly let it happen offstage. Rather, it follows the action so we can see the charming Gina Rodriguez literally torn apart by the abominations of this world.
Annihilation is a lot of things, but it’s not a shotgun movie, and this bear scene is proof of that.