I came out of a meeting and went into Evolution. I should have come out of nightmare and gone in to see it. There’s something other worldly about Evolution, not just in its supposed “mermaid horror” premise, but also in its pacing, sparse storytelling and medical porn scenes. I’d enjoyed Lucile Hadzihalilovic’s previous picture, Innocence, which had a similarly opaque, hallucinogenic quality. The world seen through a lens, darkly. This is auteur moviemaking: you come out of Evolution feeling like you’re stepping out of someone’s mind. Which is dangerous because you need to be in the right viewing space to appreciate it’s whimsical glory. I’m not sure if it’s because I went in with the wrong frame of mind, but I came out feeling a bit nonplussed. The concept of psycho-mermaids seemed more attractive in theory than in practice. Maybe that’s as it should be; maybe it was just that the repeated explicit operation sequences and injections meant that this notoriously squeamish viewer found himself coming in and out of the film from behind his fingers more often than was good for the narrative flow. It seems like a shame we have had to wait so long for Hadzihalilovic’s second feature to arrive; there’s a mesmeric quality to her filmmaking, even if I came out with the feeling that sometimes she might be stuck in her own shadow.