The first trailer for Annihilation has arrived, teasing the next sci-fi movie from writer-director Alex Garland (Ex Machina). Natalie Portman stars in this glossy adaptation of Jeff VanderMeer’s Annihilation novel, which is the first book in the Southern Reach trilogy. This series contains numerous perspectives on the mysterious ‘Area X’ – a strange landscape of unknown origin, which defies the laws of nature. The American government is desperate to understand Area X, but hopeless to decipher its mysteries.

The film looks to be following the first book rather closely (albeit with a bit more gunplay), as Portman’s biologist character enters Area X with a team of other experts (played by Jennifer Jason Leigh, Gina Rodriguez, Tessa Thompson and Tuva Novotny). They’ve all been sent in by the Southern Reach, a government agency, but Portman’s biologist has her own motive for joining the expedition: to track down her husband (Oscar Isaac), who went missing on a previous mission into Area X.

The promotional push for the film has been heating up of late, with a first-look image arriving earlier in the week, showing Portman and a bizarre sort of alligator. The film’s release date has been set for February 2018, and Garland has promised a “mind-blowing” ending for this, his latest effort as a writer and director. And now, the first Annihilation trailer has landed online, giving film fans their first proper idea of what to expect.

Natalie Portman in Annihilation Annihilation Trailer Teases Ex Machina Directors Surreal Sci Fi Film

The trailer opens with an eerie score that matches VanderMeer’s atmospheric writing style from the books. Portman’s biologist and her cohorts walk from the Southern Reach’s HQ to the border of Area X; a translucent barrier that nobody knows the origins of.

From that creepy beginning, the trailer showcases various odd bits and bobs from beyond the border: uncanny creatures, creepy tunnels, weird artwork on a wall, trees shaped like people, crystalized plants, and skeletal human remains in front of a lighthouse. To find out how all of that fits together, you’ll just have to wait and watch the film. (Or you could read the books, of course.)

However, it’s wise not to expect any easy answers to the questions this trailer poses. The exact origins and nature of Area X remain mysterious throughout the three books, and Garland only had the first one to work from when he wrote his screenplay for the film. He has described Annihilation as “a single, self-contained movie”, though, rather than a franchise-starter. This suggests some deviation from the source material, which makes it hard to predict how Annihilation will play out, even as a reader of the books.

MORE: Annihilation First-Look Image

As more Annihilation updates come to light, you can expect to find them right here on Screen Rant.

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