For this release of The Hidden Pearls, we’re throwing ourselves into horror: 2 proposals for terrorizing yourself in the dark on the sofa, in the company of a bucket of popcorn and a blanket. Pearl of horror in a philosophical sauce, on Netflix, we find Annihilation (2020), by the British director Alex Garland; if, on the other hand, you prefer Amazon Prime Video, we advise you to launch yourself – at your own risk – into the vision of The Witch (2015), Robert Eggers’ debut, as well as one of the most distressing and most successful products on the market. Annihilation (2020 – Netflix) Private Kane returns home after a year of silence from a mission that changed him deeply. His wife, Lena, a former soldier and biologist, wants to find out what happened to her husband and joins an exploratory mission in an area around which a strange atmospheric phenomenon has been created following the impact of a meteorite. If in 2014 Alex Garland had told us about the man-machine relationship in the excellent Ex Machina, with Annihilation the Briton plunges us into the most ambiguous depths of the human soul: in this strange film, halfway between horror, thriller and philosophical science fiction, man, his mind and his dramas take the form of mutable organisms, which adapt to the environment they are forced to the point of transforming themselves into potential killers in order to survive. A very good Natalie Portman accompanies us in this existential adventure, almost a training course carried out in the midst of unpredictable threats, splatter moments and well-placed twists. A fast and engaging rhythm then manages to exploit even the most typical clichés of the horror scene, here recreated in homage to the cult of the genre, from John Carpentere’s The Thing or Ridley Scott’s Aliens. The Witch (2015 – Amazon Prime Video) In the ancient American colonies of the 1600s, a family evicted from their village for obscure reasons decides to recreate their home in a desolate area, at the foot of a forest in which a Luciferian evil seems to have took root. When the newborn brother suddenly disappears from his cradle, strange things start to happen… A dazzling debut from the now well-known director Robert Eggers, The Witch was and remains one of the most terrifying religious horror films of the last 20 years. Based on the atmospheres of ancient folk tales, Eggers’ tale advances through unpredictable symbols and twists, immersing itself in the cold colors of 17th-century New England. Continuously playing on the ambivalence between religious morality and the temptation to sin, the film involves the viewer in a real internal struggle with the interiority of the protagonists and with the dark forces that, for the entire duration of the story, try to undermine it. The now famous Anya Taylor-Joy, almost a newcomer here, also does an excellent job in the role of the protagonist, accompanied by a respectable supporting cast and by a historical reconstruction so precise as to make even the most experienced scholars of the time.
Maria Letizia Cilea