Brow Beat

This Is Exactly How Many Minutes You Have to Wait to Hear That Cool, Weird Sound in Annihilation

Natalie Portman wears fatigues and holds a gun in a shimmering forest
You have to wait how long?
Paramount Pictures

Alex Garland’s Annihilation has some spectacular visual effects, strong performances from Natalie Portman and Gina Rodriguez, and a trippy ending that, for better or worse, doesn’t answer every question that the movie asks. And yet there was only one question I cared about while watching, and it was: When are we gonna get to hear that weird noise from the trailer?!

I’m talking, of course, about the hypnotic four-note theme from Ben Salisbury and Geoff Barrow’s score, the same one that was so prominently used in promoting Annihilation. When I interviewed Salisbury about the sound, which occurs as part of a longer segment of the score called “The Alien,” he warned me that the audience wouldn’t actually get to hear it in the film until the third act. Sure enough, the anticipation is intense, especially since there are a few teasingly similar sounds in the minutes leading up to the sound, so I decided to clock the wait time and erase all uncertainty.

Let’s ignore the 20-odd minutes of trailers before the film actually starts, since your mileage may vary depending on your theater of choice. I started my count from the moment the movie began and found that the four-note theme finally occurs one hour, 37 minutes, and 10 seconds in. And it sure is satisfying when it does.

If you decide that you can’t possibly wait that long, you can drastically reduce your wait time by just listening to that 12-minute chunk of the score, which is the most remarkable piece of music in the film, anyway. Or, if you prefer, you can skip the movie altogether and listen to the sound on a 10-hour loop for some instant gratification … and gratification … and gratification …