Review: Evolution (2016)


Writer/director Lucile Hadžihalilović presents this dreamlike film that is equal parts H.P. Lovecraft meets Dario Argento following the life of a young boy living on an island populated only by other young boys and their otherworldly mothers.

Evolution a very difficult film to categorize. It only has an implied narrative thread throughout following a young boy named Nicholas (Max Brebant). Nicholas lives with other boys on an unnamed island that has no older males. They live only with their mothers; who are all pale with long hair in a ponytail and all wear the same beige dress. One day while going out on a swim, Nicholas spies the body of a dead child with a starfish on his belly. His mother (Julie-Marie Parmentier) dives and brings back a starfish and says there was no boy, which fails to convince Nicholas. As the film progresses, his mother takes him to a hospital where Nicholas begins to suspect that his mother may not really be his mother at all; a suspicion that he soon comes to not be alone in sharing. In fact, his mother may not even be human at all.

What Evolution succeeds in creating throughout is an uncomfortable feeling of dread and suspense. The audience empathizes with Nicholas thoughout the film. He is curious and in a very bizarre and desolate place. The film’s look and feel is very reminiscent of films like Dario Argento’s Suspiria. An atmosphere where we know the people in charge of the hospital and the children’s mothers are not quite right and there is something more going on. Something occult the audience wants to know, yet dreads to find out. As the film progresses, one is reminded of films like Stuart Gordon’s Dagon or Drafthouse Film’s Spring; films with a decidedly otherworldly, Lovecraftian vibe and atmosphere.


Writer/director Lucile Hadžihalilović is creative partners with writer/director Gaspar Noe and this film is very similar to his work in films like Enter the Void. A film where the ethereal, open narrative guides you to a semblance of a story but at the same time is more immersive and gives the viewer a subjective experience. There’s some imagery which could be seen as being equally disturbing or surreal and beautiful. The film also makes a bizarre marriage of the genres of body horror and introspective shoegazing films like Noe’s work or even the films of Sofia Coppola. Evolution is definitely worth watching if dark and fantastic imagery in the vein of David Cronenberg, Guillermo Del Toro, or Dario Argento appeals to your sensibility in film.