This brainy sci-fi sends Natalie Portman’s army veteran-turned-biology professor into a strange world.

Portman and her four colleagues, including hard-bitten military psychologist Jennifer Jason Leigh and gutsy paramedic Gina Rodriguez, head into a zone on the American coastline that has swallowed up all previous expeditions.

What follows is mind-bogglingly weird as the team discovers a landscape full of bizarrely mutated flora and fauna. Are the same cellular changes happening to them?

Writer-director Alex Garland’s follow-up to Ex Machina starts off slowly and just a little ponderously, but becomes more scary and suspenseful as it goes along, although there are stretches where it owes more to Tarkovsky’s art-house classic Stalker than it does to author Jeff VanderMeer’s source novel.

Still, it’s good for a change to see some oestrogen-fuelled heroics rather than the usual action-movie machismo.