Ex Machina director Alex Garland’s next film will hit theaters on February 23rd

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Paramount has set a release date for Ex Machina writer-director Alex Garland’s next film, Annihilation: February 23rd, 2018.

Based on a 2014 novel by Jeff VanderMeer, Annihilation stars Natalie Portman as a biologist who joins an expedition into a mysterious zone called Area X after her husband (Oscar Isaac, who starred in Ex Machina and The Force Awakens) returned home from a year-long absence in the same region. The film also stars Jennifer Jason Leigh (The Hateful Eight), Gina Rodriguez (Jane the Virgin), and Tessa Thompson (Creed). We had a chance to see some of the footage from the film earlier this year at CinemaCon, and found it to be mesmerizing.

Garland is known for his screenwriting work on films like 28 Days Later, Sunshine, Dredd, and Never Let Me Go, but he made a critical splash with his 2015 debut feature Ex Machina, a psychological thriller about our anxieties about technology. His second film looks to be no less anxiety-driven, since VanderMeer’s novel explores humanity’s unease with the uncanniness of nature.

In the novel, a large part of a southern coast was abruptly isolated by a mysterious barrier, possibly of alien origin. A team of scientists enters, and discovers a pristine but strange world that threatens to envelop and change them. Annihilation is followed by two other novels, Authority and Acceptance, but it’s not clear if Garland is planning to adapt those as well.

This also likely isn’t the last we’ve seen of VanderMeer’s work on the big screen: Paramount optioned his recent biotech novel Borne last year.

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