'We The Animals' Trailer: Jeremiah Zagar's Sundance Award Winner Strikes A Haunting Image Of Troubled Childhood

Ever year you can count on at least a handful of Malick-esque dramas to pass through the Sundance Film Festival. This year it was Jeremiah Zagar's surreal, lyrical adaptation of We the Animals that most captured the Terrence Malick mystique, captured in a mesmeric new trailer before the film's release towards the end of summer.

Based on the 2011 book by Justin Torres, We the Animals centers on three brothers: Jonah, Manny, and Joel, whose childhood in upstate New York is shaped by their parents' volatile relationship. Torres' book follows the siblings from youth to adulthood, as two of the boys become mirror images of their irresponsible father, and the youngest brother looks for an escape.

Zagar took home the coveted NEXT Innovator Award at Sundance, and it's easy to see why. The trailer strikes an impressive, haunting image, and it's easy to see some of the Tree of Life visual cues. But Zagar has an energy that's raw, less polished than Malick's, almost like Benh Zeitlin's masterful Beasts of the Southern Wild. And the performances by a cast mostly of unknowns look strong, as well.

Here's the synopsis: Manny, Joel, and Jonah tear their way through childhood. Their mother and father have a volatile relationship that makes and unmakes the family many times over, often leaving the boys fending for themselves. As their parents rip at one another, Manny and Joel harden and grow into versions of their father. With the triumvirate fractured, Jonah, who is the youngest, becomes increasingly aware of his desperate need to escape. Driven to the edge, Jonah embraces an imagined world all his own.

Starring Sheila Vand, Raul Castillo, Evan Rosado, Isaiah Kristian, and Josiah Gabriel, We the Animals opens August 17th.