A mysterious zone called "the Shimmer" appears on Earth, a gateway to a beautiful and terrifying world of mutation, duplication, and decay. Lena (Natale Portman) sets of to explore "the Shimmer" with a group of scientists after her husband returns, emotionally and physically ill, from exploring it. The movie turns its sci-fi landscape into a war zone as the characters try to keep their sanity while fighting monsters. However, director Alex Garland's central question, why the characters actually fear "the Shimmer", is the really intriguing aspect of the film. The world of "the Shimmer" reflects the beauty and horrors we see in biological life in the real world:forest, animals, and people; but also cancer and other lethal diseases.. Garland asks how humanity's fear for the unknown complexities of our own world drives us.