Credit: Ben Rothstein/Warner Bros. Pictures

Texas-based writer-director Jeff Nichols (Mud) isn’t exactly forthcoming with details about Midnight Special, his 2016 sci-fi drama starring Michael Shannon and Kirsten Dunst as parents to a young boy (St. Vincent’s Jaeden Lieberher). The kid appearrs normal enough — but if you look closely at the exclusive photo above, note the swimming goggles around his neck.

“The son happens to have unique gifts,” Nichols, 36, says. “It’s a weird word to use, but his gifts are, um, supernatural.”

Nichols won’t confirm any further details, but those blue goggles would seem to suggest that the boy’s supernatual powers have something to do with his eyes. (The film’s poster seems to confirm it, see below.) He even has Joel Edgerton (Black Mass), guarding his family with a pump-action shotgun.

The filmmaker’s reluctance to talk about his film’s plot is part of a Spielbergian effort to shroud Midnight Special (out March 18) in a veil of secrecy similar to the great genre movies of his youth. “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,” Nichols says. “This is my sci-fi chase film.”

Among those doing the chasing is a religious kook (Sam Shepard) and a government agent played by Star Wars chief bad guy, Adam Driver. However, says Nichols, Driver is not the film’s villain. “It’ll be nice by March to see him as a decent guy again.”

Midnight Special
  • Movie
  • 111 minutes