You can tell a lot about the psychological undercurrents of a society by examining the state of its speculative fiction. For example, the science fiction and horror movies of the 1950s reveal a deep anxiety about nuclear power and the sudden surge of technological process. Though those fears might have been embodied by giant radioactive ants, they still resonated with contemporary audiences on a bone-deep level.

Emblematic of this phenomenon is Young Ones, an upcoming sci-fi Western about a day-after-tomorrow future ravaged by drought. Indeed, Young Ones taps into modern nervousness about economic hardship, environmental degradation, social collapse, and the inability of technology to alleviate any of these problems. It joins a host of cultural properties (The Rover, The Hunger Games, and Mad Max: Fury Road, among many others) that reflect a generalized anxiety that the future will end up much worse than we thought.

The first trailer for Young Ones shows off richly shot visuals, interesting ideas, and a potentially fantastic cast led by Michael Shannon (The Iceman). We especially like that the movie doesn’t appear to be going overboard with littering its landscape with the usual post-apocalyptic dross. Instead, the lived-in set design, brief flashes of gadgets, and dusty old robot companion are fairly elegant visual shorthand for a close-future setting.

All this said, Young Ones screened at this year’s Sundance Film Festival to divided reviews – most of which praise the film’s visuals but also note a script that feels half-baked. When Young Ones opens in general theaters in October, we at Screen Rant hope it lives up to the promise of this trailer – rather than fading away as just another strange cultural artifact of the years we were so worried about our future.

Directed by Jake Paltrow (Boardwalk Empire), Young Ones stars Nicholas Hoult (X-Men: Days of Future Past), Elle Fanning (The Boxtrolls), Kodi Smit-McPhee (Dawn of the Planet of the Apes), and Aimee Mullins (Crossbones).

Young Ones will mosey into theaters on October 17th, 2014.

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