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Here's How Annihilation Created That Monstrous Bear

Warning: This article contains spoilers for Annihilation.

Annihilation features some genuinely terrifying moments, at least in part thanks to the sci-fi flick's terrifying creatures. One such creature, a monstrous bear that is able to speak the final words of its screaming victims, will certainly haunt the dreams of many viewers. The creature's creator, the movie's visual effects supervisor Andrew Whitehurst, explained in a recent interview with Entertainment Weekly what went into making the spooky creation.

According to Whitehurst, the creature, which was not featured in the book on which the film was based, was invented by writer/director Alex Garland to help demonstrate The Shimmer's ability to mess with genetics and cause terrifying mutations. It was this goal that we have to thank for the bear's gory, faceless look, which was created after artists used 3D software to look at what human and bear skull and facial features would look like combined.

"We looked at that and said, 'That's horrible, that's really very visually striking and interesting, what can we do with that?'" Whitehurst said. "The rest of the creature, in terms of its physiognomy, is very bear-like, but in order to get the idea of the sickness, we had parts — particularly around the face, the skull, and flesh — atrophied in a way. We gave it alopecia and other skin complaints so the creature looked like it was suffering."

Although the bear was responsible for the death of Tuva Novotny's Cass and Gina Rodriguez's Anya, Whitehurst said that it was still important that it not just be a creature of destruction. "It's an animal who doesn't really know what it has become and is clearly suffering, and that side of the story was important because you didn't want something that was just this horrific killing machine," he said. "You wanted a creature that was in a situation that was not of its own making and that it was unable to deal with."

Fittingly with the goal of giving viewers at least some sympathy for the bear, Whitehurst said that the creature actually has a surprisingly sweet name related to the 2014 film Paddington, which he also worked on. "Paddington is very nice bear, and Paddington Station [in London] is a very elegant Victorian station, so we thought, 'What was a slightly rough-around-the-edges station?'" The group ended up thinking of the East London rail station Homerton, which became the bear's namesake.

Natalie Portman, Tessa Thompson, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Oscar Isaac, and Benedict Wong also star in Annihilation, which is in theaters now.