Exclusive Review: SPRING (2015){0}

Not all “horror” movies are about shocks, scares, jolts, and suspense. OK, maybe 99% of them are about that stuff – but there’s a small subdivision that’s tucked deep down in the smarter and perhaps more sensitive section of the genre, and that’s where you find “speculative” horror fiction that’s 1/3 sci-fi, 1/3 drama, and 1/3 a clever rumination on what the word “creature” actually means.

Put another way, the new indie film Spring feels a little like Before Sunrise, as imagined by a pair of filmmakers who love David Cronenberg, but are clearly more interested in the emotional side of humanity, and not necessarily the visceral side of the story. Written and directed by the very clever guys who made Resolution (2012), Aaron Moorhead & Justin Benson’s Spring is only tangentially a “horror” film, but don’t let that turn you off; there are hundreds of gory flicks about a guy who falls in love with a female “monster” – check out Vincenzo Natali’s colorfully insane Splice – but Spring is more interested in the mental and emotional impact of not only discovering a supernatural being, but also in falling in love with her.

All you need to know is that Evan (Lou Taylor Pucci) is a likeable guy stuck in a go-nowhere life. Aside from one loyal pal (the amusing Jeremy Gardner, from The Battery), Evan is looking at an existence filled with nasty bullies, dead-end jobs, and a general sense of palpable misery. So Evan hops (almost randomly) onto a plane bound for Italy with the hopes of a fresh start firm in his mind. It doesn’t take long before Evan meets the gorgeous Louise (Nadia Hilker), and strikes up a friendship that soon becomes a passionate love affair. And that, of course, is when we start to pick up little clues about Louise’s past. And let’s just say she has a very long and unpleasant one.

A serious horror fan would expect Spring to resort to simple carnage at some point, but the directors simply aren’t interested in telling that story. So while Spring certainly does offer some disturbing moments, creepy stories, and unsettling ideas, the film is much more of a bittersweet love story than a campfire tale about demonic females who do horrible things.

If Spring is “about” a certain fear, it might be the “fear of commitment” we hear thrown around all the time. As Evan and Louise’s affair goes from simple infatuation to outright adoration, the film takes on a sense of gloomy foreboding. We all know this relationship is doomed, one way or another, but that’s sort of what Spring is about: savouring something that we know is fleeting. It’s an odd yet oddly engaging combination of horror, romance, and dark comedy, and it’s certainly one of the most original genre films you’ll see all year.


@ScottWeinberg (@ScottEWeinberg)

SPRING  is released in the US (via Drafthouse Films) on March 20, and in the UK this, uh, Spring.