Alex Garland has been a Hollywood heavy-hitter since 2002, when his screenplay for 28 Days Later revolutionized the zombie genre. The novelist-turned-filmmaker spent the next decade turning out critically acclaimed scripts for movies like Sunshine and Never Let Me Go, but his true breakthrough came with his directorial debut, Ex Machina. The 2015 film, which Garland also wrote, was critical and box office success, earning Garland an Academy Award nomination for Best Original Screenplay, and winning an Oscar for Best Visual Effects. Arguably, it gave rise to Garland's next project, Annihilation.
Ex Machina featured several notable performances, from Alicia Vikander's breakthrough role as an AI named Ava to Oscar Isaac's villainous tech genius Nathan. Another standout was Sonoya Mizuno, one of Nathan's earlier AI creations, Kyoko, a silent and abused servant who lives with the programmer in his secluded estate. She's probably best-remembered as Isaac's dance partner in the film's notorious disco scene.
SPOILERS FOR THE ENDING OF ANNIHILATION
Mizuno has two roles in Annihilation. She's seen in the background as a med student, but also pops up in the film's mystifying final act. Don't worry if you didn't recognize her: She plays the humanoid extraterrestrial that attempts to duplicate Natalie Portman's Lena. The two beings engage in a mirrored back-and-forth, with Mizuno's humanoid – cased in iridescent Lycra – locking Lena into a dance of sorts, mimicking her every move. Lena eventually destroys the creature with a phosphorous grenade (or does she?) and escapes the lighthouse. It's already the most memorable and talked about scene in the film, something we're collectively still parsing out.
Another fun fact about the ending? The lighthouse sequence was choreographed by Israeli dancer Bobbi Jene Smith, who was recently the subject of the documentary Bobbi Jene. That film was directed by Danish documentarian Elvira Lind – who's married to Oscar Isaac.
Need More Annihilation?
- Read our review of the film.
- Check out our rundown of the book vs. film differences!
- And finally, 13 movies to watch after you've finished Annihilation.
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