How Annihilation’s visual effects artists created those terrifying mutant creatures

The last time director Alex Garland and visual effects supervisor Andrew Whitehurst worked together, they created Alicia Vikander’s Ava, the robot star of Ex Machina. For their follow-up collaboration, Annihilation, they had a much bigger set of challenges. Garland’s newest film is a heady mind-trip that explores humanity’s self-destructive impulses, but it’s also a walking tour of the gorgeous and the grotesque. The story of Lena (Natalie Portman), a biologist who joins a group of women to explore an area of coastal America that’s rapidly mutating due to an alien contaminant, Annihilation is full of improbably beautiful biological mashups, shimmering landscapes, and human-plant hybrids.

It also features one of the most terrifying…

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