While there have been plenty of regurgitated horror reboots and franchise revivals in years past, 2016 has certainly been a stand-out time for the horror genre. Whether folklore horror (The Witch), suspense thrillers featuring real-world monsters (Green Room, Don’t Breathe) or even a good old-fashioned horror movie sequel (The Conjuring 2) be to your tastes, this year has offered something. Now, French filmmaker Lucile Hadžihalilović is about to debut her own second, skin-crawling film in the U.S., a year after its Toronto International Film Festival debut.
Evolution focuses on young protagonist Nicolas. Much to the chagrin of his mother, Nicolas is compelled to understand the horrifying secrets that make up his world. The boy, who lives on an island made up entirely of boys and their mothers, is mystified after he sees a dead body in the ocean. He becomes obsessed with his own existence, the island’s ritual hospitalization of young men, and the ocean, as his fragile life starts to unfurl. IFC Films, Evolution‘s American distributor, recently released its official trailer, so you can attempt to puzzle out the unsettling picture yourself. Beware, though, because after you see this trailer, you will never look at starfish the same way again.
The film is a deeply psychological exploration of puberty, adolescent sexuality, and humanity, much like Hadžihalilović’s first feature, Innocence. However, unlike Innocence, which was based on a novella, this mind-boggling alternate universe is entirely the filmmaker’s own. The trailer, which introduces — but refuses to entirely give away — the film’s premise, shows how quickly its unsettling plot develops after Nicolas discovers the body. It takes us through a compelling visual journey through the sea, showing us some of the film’s rave reviews as the ever-curious Nicolas is subjected to medical procedures. Tension really ramps up toward the end, when an eerie count-down and a starfish drawing beautifully frame some enigmatic images, leading one to question the role of the mother and the island in general.
Evolution met fantastic critical reception during its festival run, where it won the Best Cinematography Prize and Special Jury Prize at the San Sebastián International Film Festival, as well as the Best Cinematography Prize at the Stockholm International Film Festival. It’s also done extremely well with critics, who praise its ability to balance art house experimentalism with a compelling narrative. Luckily, IFC Films is prepping the picture for American distribution, so that those of us on the Western hemisphere can puzzle over the mystifying seaside story. The film will hit American screens as part of its IFC Midnight brands, which has previously been responsible for such other horrifying international hits as The Human Centipede and We Are What We Are.
All in all, Evolution looks promising for those unafraid of disturbing cinema. In the same vein as pictures like Dogtooth and Oldboy, this quieter contemplation on the horrors of being human looks prepared to take viewers on a journey of contemplation, confusion, and chill-inducing distress — all in an hour and twenty minutes.
Evolution premiers in the United States Nov. 25.
Source: IFC Films
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