Evolution is a gloriously unsettling film which gets right under the skin without doing very much. Less is very much more in this French tale of child exploitation and horror.
The film is a body-shock horror science fiction movie with gives no easy answers or resolutions. While that may cause frustration for some audience members, the very mood of the piece lingers in the mind long after the final shot and the credits have rolled.
Evolution takes place on a remote island, inhabited by women and young boys. The boys all undergo weird medical procedures, while the adults take part in strange secret rituals at night. Only one of the boys, 10 year old Nicholas, questions what is going on around him. It’s through his eyes we discover the strange behaviour on the island as he ventures out in the evening.
All the surroundings and medical equipment seem antiquated and low-tech. This appears to be taking place not just far from civilisation, but also out of time. There are some utterly breathtaking moments as the procedures come to grotesque fruition – are these boys being farmed to give birth? One of them tearfully explains he doesn’t like what’s being done to him the hearts of the audience collectively break. There is not a great deal more to the film than this, but it is completely captivating. And horrific.
It is slow and spare, there’s no concession to narrative explanation and if you’re looking for a tidy resolution then this film won’t be for you. But despite these things which by rights should knock it off the rails, it is spookily brilliant. The beautiful cinematography in Evolution does a great deal to create the unsettling mood, a languidly unnerving set of images which combined with the unrelenting mystery of what is happening create a great deal of atmosphere. Make sure that you watch this in a darkened room, with nothing glaring on the screen to make the most of the darkened action.
Evolution is not an easy film to explain, it’s the kind of movie which you experience rather than follow. It’s difficult to categorise, and is even difficult to pinpoint what is actually happening. The skill of the production is that rather than working against the film, it really helps it.
Evolution is a wonderfully creepy affair, and is out on DVD now.