Directed by Justin Benson & Aaron Moorhead.
Starring Lou Taylor Pucci, Nadia Hilker, Vanessa Bednar, Shane Brady, Holly Hawkins, Kenzo Lee.
A troubled young man flees the US to Italy but gets more than he bargained for when he meets the alluring Louise.
When Evan (Lou Taylor Pucci – Evil Dead) has had enough of his life and dead-end job he decides to go travelling, opting to go to Italy and seeing where events take him. After hooking up with a couple of drunken British backpackers he meets the beautiful Louise (Nadia Hilker), who invites him back to her place within a minute of meeting. But Evan is a little more considerate than his fellow travellers and tries to get Louise to go on a date with him; she declines but Evan is enchanted and when his new friends decide to move on he stays in the Italian village, taking up a job as an apprentice farmer in exchange for lodgings. When Evan bumps into Louise in the village he begins to try and woo her, eventually succeeding but Evan soon discovers that finding the love of your life comes at a price and Louise has a dark secret that could potentially change everything.
Evocative of Andrjez Zulawski’s 1981 cult movie Possession, only warmer and lighter in tone, Spring is a film that has a lot going on beneath the surface but at the same time is also quite straightforward. The central hook is the relationship between Evan and Louise; Evan is a naïve young man, not very well travelled and looking to escape a life back home that was going nowhere, whereas Louise is the opposite. She is worldly-wise, often with a depth of knowledge that is way beyond her apparent years, although her behaviour is very quirky and right from the off she is as alluring to the audience as she is to Evan. Watching their romance blossom is the key to getting the most out of Spring as these are characters that we can get behind, that we want to route for and characters that have an arc; think about it, how many so-called ‘horror’ movies recently have been able to offer that?
And Spring is a horror movie. It’s also a love story, a coming-of-age movie, a character piece, a drama and even sci-fi, but it never falls into any one of those categories very comfortably for any amount of time and just when you think you know where it’s going it throws you another curveball to hold your attention. The parts that will appeal to horror fans – the parts that most recall Possession – aren’t there for jump scares and don’t feel tacked on to add a bit of spice. Instead, they feel totally natural and part of the narrative – which, of course, they are – but the camera never lingers on what is happening, snatching glimpses here and there and giving you enough to keep you invested but without the gratuity that could have seen the film lose a lot of its potency.
Despite the 5-star rating Spring has one slight stumbling block and that is that once Louise has revealed her secret to Evan there is an ever-so-slight shift in the tone, the mystery now gone and, armed with the knowledge of who Louise is, we move towards the climax weighing up what the outcome will be. It’s not enough to drop the rating but if we had hit the end scene without knowing anything about what could happen it may have made the final 20 minutes a little more consistent with the rest of the movie. That said, the ending is absolutely perfect and will leave you breathless.
Spring is a beautifully poetic movie. Perfectly paced with some amazing cinematography, you really get a sense of place and feel like you have spent time in that rural Italian setting with people that you care about, and it manages to convey the concept of unconditional love in a far superior and, ironically, human way than any throwaway rom-com or pompous period piece has ever managed. If there’s any justice left in the world Spring will feature highly in many end-of-year lists as it isn’t often that a film this weird and wonderful comes along and leaves such an impression. Do yourself a favour and take Evan’s advice: “Some pizza and a bottle of wine with the right person” and settle down to watch Spring together – it’ll be more rewarding than you may think.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★