It’s going to be a real challenge to talk about Spring without giving away any juicy plot points and, believe me, this is the kind of movie you want to go into and experience as fresh as you possibly can on your first viewing. It’ll be difficult but I’m going to try and say as little as possible yet still express how great this movie is and why you should seek it out and watch it before you spend any more time being the person who has yet to have the pleasure of having watched Spring.
I mean, how often does a smart, touching, and layered indie horror movie come along that totally subverts its genre and tropes and has the ability to appeal just as easily to a non-horror audience as it does to its core demographic?
Be warned, though, if you’re a hardcore genre fan looking for a visceral movie more akin to a Hostel or The Conjuring, this might not be the film for you. I’m not trying to profile but, while I still consider this to be a horror film and firmly rooted in the horror tradition, it’s really not the type of story that’s going to thrill you with multiple jump scares or horrific torture scenes. What it will do is quietly seduce you with its mood, its mystery, its characters, and its heart.
The 2014 film was the brainchild of Justin Benson and Aaron Moorehead who had previously collaborated on the anthology horror, V/H/S: Viral, and it tells the story of Evan, a young American man who travels to Italy in order to get away from the stresses of his life at home. While there, he stumbles onto a mysterious Italian woman named Louise who is beautiful and quirky and instantly intrigues him. He likes her, a lot, and his curiosity and affections set in motion a series of events that change the way Evan looks at life and reveals the strange secret that Louise has been hiding.
Wow. There’s so much more there I want to talk about but, as I said earlier, to delve too deep would ruin all the fun.
That said, I can still talk about how beautifully this movie has been executed from the top down. Benson and Moorehead have written a wonderful story that is effectively brought to life by the leads, Lou Taylor Pucci (Thumbsucker, Evil Dead) and Nadia Hilker (In The Gallery). They have superb chemistry, play off of each other really well, and just make you care about Evan and Louise. Their courtship is sweet and genuine and, as they spend time together and get to know each other against the backdrop of this small Italian town, I’m reminded of how I felt watching Richard Linklater’s Before Sunrise. It’s charming, relatable, and absolutely necessary for the film’s second half to work effectively.
Moorehead’s cinematography is a welcome surprise and is so pitch-perfect for this film. So often I’ve seen Italy photographed as to make it look bright, warm, and inviting. In Spring, Moorehead chooses a softer, more subdued look, possibly to emphasize the season, but more likely to emphasize the mood and tone of the story. The colours are muted, the environment looks colder, a touch unforgiving, and burdened by time and history. At no point, though, does he sacrifice the beauty of the architecture or landscape in a scene to achieve this look. Just solid stuff.
And that holds for pretty much everything on this movie like the writing, direction, editing, it all works.
I shouldn’t really be surprised that I liked Spring as much as I did. I often enjoy the films that my favourite filmmakers applaud and Guillermo Del Toro has a better track record with me than most in that regard. So, when he tweeted this not too long ago…
How could you argue with an endorsement like that?
Really, I couldn’t agree more or say any better. When the credits rolled I just sat there, satisfied, with a smile on my face and the feeling that I had just sat through a very smart, classy, and well put together little movie. Spring totally appealed to the genre fan in me, the hopeless romantic, and the rabid cinephile. It’s a rare treat that I get all the synapses firing in sync with any single viewing experience.
Spring comes with the highest recommendation I can give. Not to be overlooked.