To describe Evolution is a difficult feat. This is a film that’s been compared to Under the Skin, Cronenberg body-horror and Upstream Colour after all. And it comes from Lucile Hadžihalilović, the creative and romantic partner of Gaspar Noé and (more importantly) the talented director behind Innocence. ‘Normal’ this is not.
The setting is a small beach town, populated only by young boys and androgynous looking women. Days are spent playing on the rocks and diving in the sea. One day, one of the boys – Nicholas (Max Brebant) - sees a dead body underwater with a red starfish on it. This leads him to an awakening of sorts, as he begins to question his existence and the people around him.
The women - previously accepted as the boys’ mothers and guardians – now appear more sinister and their intentions are questioned. What do they do on the beach at night? And why are the boys being taken to a hospital and operated on? One of the women – Stella (Roxane Duran) - forms a bond with Nicolas, as more questions are raised and only occasionally answered. The mysteriously macabre and dream-like nature of the film allow you to forgive this, and just watch.
Evolution is beautifully shot and mesmerising, if without a conventional narrative. Metaphors of puberty, maternity and sexuality are woven into the film and, although at times it is jarring, it is never disturbing to the point of complete unpleasantness. Unique and challenging, with a foreboding nature similar to - but less intense than - Goodnight Mommy, it’s definitely an evolution in the horror genre.
EVOLUTION / CERT: TBC / DIRECTOR: LUCILE HADŽIHALILOVIĆ / SCREENPLAY: LUCILE HADŽIHALILOVIĆ, ALANTE KAVAITE, GEOFF COX / STARRING: MAX BREBANT, ROXANE DURAN, JULIE-MARIE PARMENTIER, MATHIEU GOLDFELD, NISSIM RENARD / RELEASE DATE: MAY 6TH