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as the biologist approaches, which the biologist later finds out is a trigger word that is intended to induce suicidal feelings in the biologist. When they ascend to the top of the tower the psychologist is nowhere to be seen. Garland’s Shimmer is an alien effect spreading from a meteor impact, but VanderMeer withholds that information until the third book in the series and explains it only through a character’s feverish vision. Area X is designed to be strange, shocking, and horrific, because it’s simply too much for humans to perceive. The Crawler is the most Lovecraftian element in VanderMeer’s book, especially when it’s writing biblical-sounding nonsense on the tower walls in a kind of organic fungi ink. The remaining explorers go back to the spiral staircase where the psychologist stands watch while the other two descend. In the movie, extensive flashbacks suggest that Lena and Kane’s relationship was in trouble long before he enters the Shimmer. It inhabits the tower, and appears to constantly, albeit slowly, move up and down the spiral staircase of the structure.

It’s even more astonishing considering its source, a seemingly unadaptable, utterly bizarre novel.

It’s also that quality of humanity that Area X most threatens by robbing organic life of its mental and biological agency. VanderMeer confirmed in an email to The Verge that the being was Garland’s personal take on the Crawler, a kind of “skin” of the creature, if you will, while other elements like the crystal trees and the texture of the lighthouse he says feel inspired by his text descriptions of the Crawler from the book.

While still in the depths of the tower, the biologist tells the surveyor her theory about the psychologist. Update at 12:45PM ET, 3/1: Clarified with input from author Jeff VanderMeer that Garland does indeed include the Crawler in the final sequence of the film, but alters it in key ways for the cinematic sequence.

The omissions are purposeful: his worlds feel familiar but unknowable in a borderline conspiratorial, almost post-apocalyptic way, much like how American society’s current dysfunctions would feel alien to generations past. The same strange fugue is repeated by the other seven members of his expedition. And so Area X and its effect on organic life is a kind of metaphor for humanity’s destructive nature, twisted into a form we cannot control or even perceive, and used to return power and an agenda to the natural, organic world. Warning: Major spoilers for both the film and book versions of Annihilation. Here’s how the film differs thematically from its source material. The surveyor doesn't believe the biologist at first, and cautiously maintains faith in the psychologist as the leader of their expedition. The biologist's husband found a boat and tried to cross back along the shoreline. In the closing scene of the film, Lena’s eyes shimmer as she embraces the clone of her husband, suggesting they both were obliterated in different ways, and reconstructed in an act of self-destruction come full circle. The most complete recorded segment, beginning at the top of the spiral staircase, runs as follows: Southern Reach Wiki is a FANDOM Books Community.

His team consisted of eight members, and their approach was somewhat different from that of her team.

This is the foe the biologist feels she’s destined to confront. The Question and Answer section for Annihilation is a great Take your favorite fandoms with you and never miss a beat. Area X is so alien, humans inside it experience a kind of ego death. As a result, Area X creates a clone of the biologist and sends it to the outside world. She experiences a sort of "annihilation."

Even VanderMeer himself notes it’s a “very liberal adaptation.” But it shares the same DNA, refracted and rearranged into something new. She finds a midden (dumpsite) filled to the brim with journals written by members of previous expeditions—far more than they had been told about.

Within the tower, they find the Crawler, the closest thing Annihilation has to an antagonist.
Garland doesn’t want the phenomenon dismissed as a dream or hallucination.

A cuddly creature attempts to make friends with Lena (Natalie Portman) in Annihilation. But VanderMeer’s writing is often more interested in the idea on a grand ecological scale. But Garland is fascinated by the personal act of self-destruction, and it’s easy to see why he shied away from the book’s deeper, more dreamlike elements, and focused instead on how it expresses some of his own obsessions.

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Although the content of the Crawler's "message" has been recorded by multiple expeditions, its meaning remains largely obscure. The film rearranges and mutates elements from the novel to create something new, much like how Natalie Portman’s character describes Area X’s overall effect.

And by focusing on the deconstruction and rebirth of Lena, Kane, and their marriage, Garland has created something human and universal from a narrative that’s purposefully designed to feel inhuman and beyond our collective understanding.
The original biologist stays behind, knowing the clone of her husband died outside Area X, and the original may still be inside, transformed into something new, but alive. This has the effect of narrative devices like Area X seeming as befuddling to readers as it is to the Southern Reach organization, an agency that continuously sends people to meet grisly fates, with little to no data on what’s happening to them. Within the tower, they find the Crawler, the closest thing Annihilation has to an antagonist.

In a recent interview, Garland told The Verge that he wanted to tell a story about the way the literal, molecular process of self-destruction in organic life mirrors the psychological one in humans, in which we’re always rewriting our own personalities and resisting, or failing to resist, self-destructive choices. Garland even goes out of his way in the first few minutes to make sure the audience knows none of them, except Portman’s character, clearly make it out alive, so viewers shouldn’t get too attached to them. We may not understand alien motives or even be able to communicate with creatures radically different from us.

She continues on but when she turns around she sees the face of the former lighthouse keeper looking back at her. The Crawler appears to be an integral component of the "mechanism" that is at work throughout Area X. The psychologist tells her and the surveyor that the anthropologist was unable to withstand the rigors of the trip and has already gone back across the border. Its words, which literally came to VanderMeer in a dream, don’t seem to mean anything. None of the four participants on the Area X expedition (there are five in the movie) have names or concrete backgrounds, which ties into VanderMeer’s exploration of identity and its reconstruction inside the “pristine wilderness” of Area X, as his characters are fond of saying. Four nameless women cross the border into Area X, which has been contained for thirty years by the mysterious Southern Reach agency. For real though, the Crawler is an entity from Area X.

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