Opinion piece by Eddie on 18/02/2022
It may seem strange to be calling an Oscar nominated writer/director underrated, but for whatever reason it still feels as though the general public and even Hollywood as an industry has undervalued the work of Alex Garland for far too long.
A one time frequent collaborator with filmmaker Danny Boyle, with the duo collaborating on the divisive Leonardo DiCaprio starring The Beach, reinventing the zombie genre with 28 Days Later and offering up audiences a sci-fi classic with Sunshine, Garland has since branched out to writing and directing his own tales that have been nothing short of extraordinary, even if we barely talk about their many merits as much as we should.
With A24 recently releasing a teaser trailer for Garland’s intriguing looking low budget horror Men (due out mid-year), it’s a timely reminder that in the space of a few short years Garland has directed his stunning debut Ex-Machina, the Netflix backed horror/sci-fi hybrid Annihilation and the criminally underrated TV series Devs, not to mention if you are to believe reports, directing a large majority of cult comic adaptation Dredd after its original director took a step back from the project Garland also wrote.
A creative that feels at home in many varied genres and mediums, dabbling in writing his own novels and working in the video game space at times throughout his career, Garland’s work has constantly remained intriguing with a mind on pushing boundaries and audiences expectations with narratives and products that refuse to take the easy options and give us an end product that is worthy of debating and evaluating over time as the themes and concepts make themselves more apparent.
For anyone seeking examples of this type of work its worth tracking down FX’s Devs, a mini-series that shares similar DNA to Ex_Machina but becomes its own beast entirely, one that over the course of 8 episodes takes many surprising twists and turns and provides sci-fi fans with one of the most fully-formed and deeply intricate stories of the modern era.
He may not be the most frequent of writers/directors, completing less than 20 projects since he first came into the film scene in 2000 but its about time we started giving out the credit he deserves to Garland and celebrate a career that may not have the same plaudits and public adulation that others do, but is a career where the work speaks for itself in abundance and will likely remain benchmark works for the years yet to come, as more scholars of film take in the magic Garland has managed to conjure up over an impressive few decades.
What are you favourite Alex Garland films? Let me know in the comments below!