VOD film review: Spring
James R | On 23, May 2015
Directors: Justin Benson, Aaron Moorhead
Cast: Lou Taylor Pucci, Nadia Hilker
“Are you a vampire, werewolf, zombie, witch or alien?” asks Evan in Spring. It’s a conversation that cuts straight to the heart of the movie’s post-modern magic: after years of horror-romance flicks, as soon as you meet someone who seems a little weird, surely it’s the first question you ask? You might have just been hitting on a golden egg-laying goose in disguise. On the other hand, you might be buying a drink for a drunk, violent werewolf. Better be safe than sorry.
After all, Evan is perfect genre fodder. After a personal tragedy – and some unwise brawling – he finds himself with no real connections in the US and ever fewer reasons to return. So he hops on a plane to Italy, where he meets young scientist Louise.
What follows is more straight romance than horror, as the pair spend the 90 minutes hanging out. He is instantly smitten, while she remains distant and aloof; a dynamic that feels like something of a reverse Twilight. Their relationship, though, is more mature than that; it comes with the baggage and history that twenty-somethings and older carry. As they learn more about each other, that bond evolves, and continues to evolve, each stage so vividly realised it’s like a marriage guide book written by Darwin.
While she harbours a secret from years ago, the scares that do come are not from where you’d expect: this is a story that shifts form as it goes, from a Richard Linklater-like love tale to a pseudo-sci-fi. Along the way, there are encounters in crypts and blood-spattered alleys, but everything remains affectingly human. “Are you scared of me?” asks Evan’s mum on her deathbed. “Trying not to be,” he grins.
Directors Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead do what Linklater did with his Jesse and Celine trilogy: they move out of the way of their stars. Lou Taylor Pucci is superb as the unknowing, infatuated loner and Nadia Hilker is perfect as the infatuating belle, both feeling their way towards intimacy.
Benson and Moorhead never let their sterling visual effects distract from the couple’s chemistry – a concept taken almost literally by the witty script. After the passing of Evan’s mum, birth and rebirth also echo throughout. “They kill the tree so they can pollenate it?” Evan exclaims, after renting a room from one local farmer, who gives him a tour of the orchard and its insects. “Mother Nature’s crazy.”
That’s the universal theme that emerges in a heartfelt monologue near the film’s climax: the fear of making a connection with someone else. “Sunrises and sunsets, something are just so beautiful no matter what,” observes Evan. Keep your vampires and aliens. Sometimes, the most terrifying – and magical – thing is another person.