Alex Garland’s work with Danny Boyle established him as a fine screenwriter as well as an acclaimed novelist. His directing debut, 2014’s astonishing Ex Machina, was a critical hit and our collective eyes and ears have been waiting to see what his next move would be.

A February 2019 release date was set for his follow up project – Annihilation. Based on the Southern Reach series of books by Jeff VanderMeer, Annihilation has Natalie Portman leading a cast which includes Jennifer Jason Leigh, Tuva Novotny, Gina Rodriguez and Thor: Ragnarok’s Tessa Thompson. Garland’s Ex Machina’s standout Oscar Isaac also appears as Portman’s husband.

Related: Alex Garland Interview for Ex-Machina

The first image from the film was released yesterday, closely followed by the first trailer which you can see below.

Annihilation Alex GarlandThis image is taken from the “first tangible encounter with something strange” the director said to EW. He explained,

“The alligator has physical elements to it that should not belong on an alligator. They’re starting to get their heads around how weird the place is,” he teased. “[Portman] finds a very strange, dream-like, surrealist landscape, and goes deeper and deeper into that world, and also into that mindset.”

The story is based on the findings of the latest team to explore the mysterious Area X. The four woman team consists of a biologist (Portman), an anthropologist (Rodriguez), a psychiatrist (Leigh) and a surveyor (Thompson).

Garland explained his first encounter with the novel,

“I don’t finish books, or films, or anything, really, if it isn’t grabbing me for one reason. Well, I read it in a sitting. I found the atmosphere incredibly strong and I liked the kind of dream state that it created and put me in. It had all sorts of qualities that I found really interesting. I thought immediately, Yes, I’d like to try this.”

And good for us that he did. Vandermeer was asked about his impression of the adaptation on The Watch podcast,

“It’s actually more surreal than the novel. There are a couple places where I was like, ‘I might need an anchor here.’ The ending is so mind-blowing and in some ways different from the book that it seems to be the kind of ending that, like 2001 or something like that, people will be talking about around the watercooler for years… Visually, it’s amazing.”

The film is released in cinemas on the 23rd of February, 2019. And we can’t wait.

Annihilation Movie Trailer