“Lovecraft Through a Renaissance Lens”
Lucile Hadzihalilovic’s weird and meditative body-horror picture on the nature of reproduction (amongst other things) gets a UK release from Metrodome just after it finishes its run on the art house cinema circuit.
On an isolated island of rocks and black sand lives a strange community of young women and young boys. While the boys are fed a worm-filled gruel and subjected to bizarre medical procedures at a grim hospital, the women congregate by the sea where they commune naked, possibly through the strange sucker-like appendages on their backs.
This bizarre ritual culminates in the creation of tiny, foetus-like creatures that then have to be implanted within the abdominal cavities of the boys so they can gestate. When young Nicolas (Max Brebant) is brought in for implantation, he develops a relationship with one of the hospital nurses through the pictures he loves to draw. How the relationship ends is something you can discover for yourself.
I’m not really giving too much away with that synopsis, in fact it might actually help explain some of what is going on. There is more than that of course in this, director Lucile Hadzihalilovic’s first film since the equally peculiar INNOCENCE (2004). The director has herself admitted that EVOLUTION was influenced by the films of David Lynch and David Cronenberg. One assumes the red sheets in the hospital are in homage to Cronenberg's own gynaecological horror picture DEAD RINGERS (1988).
There’s a strong Lovecraft feel to the proceedings as well, though. Lovecraft through a Renaissance lens, perhaps, with some often startlingly beautiful compositions. Some of the female characters do have a rather ‘aquatic’ look about them. I was reminded of axolotls and was actually expecting the boys to grow up to become them. Who knows? Perhaps they do, but if so that’s not made clear here.
The first two thirds of the film are equal parts beauty and fascination. As we enter the third act of EVOLUTION, however, the film does begin to feel as if things have been stretched out a bit to get it to feature length. It’s still definitely worth watching, though. Metrodome’s DVD contains no extras other than the option of 2.0 or 5.1 surround sound mix.
Lucile Hadzihalilovic’s EVOLUTION is out on Region 2 DVD from Metrodome on Monday 20th June 2016