If you haven’t seen “Annihilation,” remedy that misstep at your earliest convenience. If you have seen “Annihilation,” you’re likely still unsettled by the bear-like creature that moans in the voice of its victims and is the centerpiece of the film’s gnarliest scene. For insights into how that nameless beast and the rest of the Shimmer were designed, Vulture spoke to production designer Mark Digby, who’s responsible for its unforgettable look.
“I think the starting point for that was a damaged creature, but we wanted it to be powerful, as well, and threatening,” says Digby, who also collaborated with writer/director Alex Garland on “Ex Machina.” “We didn’t want it to be a bear. We wanted it to have that general shape, but then we forged in these other images and that sad-looking physiology, with some of its face disappearing. It had been destroyed and changed. Also, things had grown cancerously. Half its face is missing, as if you’d had cancer of the mouth.”
“Another feature we looked at was changes in pigmentation,” Digby adds; like the alligator/shark hybrid seen earlier the film, the bear-like monster is paler than its real-world counterpart would be “The plants that they first see, a lot of them are white. The alligator-shark is white, it’s all devoid of its normal pigmentation. When we were [researching], we found some baboons, some other animals where they started to lose their pigment and their fur and they looked pretty ill.”
Digby also discusses his process for the film in general. Read the full interview here.