The Magic Lantern: Episode 111 – Evolution
Upon my first viewing of it, Lucile Hadžihalilović’s Evolution (2015) leapt to the top of the list of my favorite movies of this decade, perhaps of any decade. It’s a deft intermingling of modern body horror and much more ancient fears. Sometimes you’re not sure if you just saw an elder god out of the corner of your eye. Sometimes you’re not sure what you saw, even though you were looking right at it. I was in a bit of daze after seeing it that first time. Was it the buzz of Fantastic Fest or was it a voice I had been eagerly awaiting? It was beautifully perplexing.
And it’s alright to be confused. Hadžihalilović didn’t mean to make it easy for you. That’s precisely what I love most about Evolution. It doesn’t provide easy answers. It’s maternity and mortality. It’s coming of age and coming undone. And all of that in the body least likely to house these powerful, contrary forces. The push and pull can be confounding. It’s a murky world we find ourselves in. We can ultimately take comfort in the fact that we are in the hands of a skilled filmmaker. Hadžihalilović exercises control and precision when necessary, but she also values the unknown in a way that I admire. That enigma is what motivates her as an artist and it’s her gift to us as viewers. We dive into the crashing surf and emerge unsteady and transformed.
What you’ll find in this episode: the Lynchian and the Lovecraftian, asexual reproduction, nosebleeds, starfish, and how there’s always that one nurse on the ward.
Links and Recommendations:
Check out Evolution on IMDB.
Ericca’s further viewing pick of Picnic at Hanging Rock.
Cole’s further viewing pick of Innocence.
Get to know the starfish!
Is male pregnancy closer than we think?