Watch the first trailer for the highly anticipated Midnight Special

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Nov 19, 2015, 6:25 PM EST

Independent director Jeff Nichols may be about to deliver one of next year's great science fiction movies.

Don't know who Nichols is? He's made a trio of highly acclaimed features -- Shotgun Stories, Take Shelter and Mud -- that have put him at the forefront of the indie scene. I still haven't seen his debut, but Take Shelter was an eerie psychodrama with apocalyptic overtones, while Mud was a character study dressed in the trappings of a Southern noir...and both were excellent.

So when it was announced that he was turning his hand to sci-fi, that immediately caught my attention. Midnight Special is the name of the film, and it follows a father (the great Michael Shannon, who has been in all of Nichols' films so far) who goes on the run to protect his son (Jaeden Lieberher), who is gifted with extraordinary powers of some kind. The first trailer has arrived:


I see a lot of influences in there, from Looper to Village of the Damned to a kind of general (if darker) Amblin vibe, but Nichols has his own unique directorial voice as well. Here's what he told EW about the movie:

"The son happens to have unique gifts. It’s a weird word to use, but his gifts are, um, supernatural. Close Encounters of the Third Kind, E.T., Starman, they were my inspirations — very propulsive journeys that work when you can’t predict what’s going to happen next. This is my sci-fi chase film."

The movie also stars Kirsten Dunst, Joel Edgerton, Sam Shepard and Adam Driver, and is due out on March 18, 2016. Every year, it seems, there's one standout sci-fi movie that's based on an original idea, doesn't cost $200 million to make and isn't a sequel or franchise. A few years back it was Looper. In 2015 it was Ex Machina. I'm going to predict right here that Midnight Special is one we'll be talking about in 2016.

(via Slashfilm/Indiewire)