Review by Derrick Carter
Running Time: 1 hour 49 minutes
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Directed by: Justin Benson & Aaron Moorhead
Written by: Justin Benson
Starring: Lou Taylor Pucci, Nadia Hilker, Vanessa Bednar, Shane Brady, Francesco Carnelutti & Holly Hawkins
Romance and Horror aren’t typically two genres that go well together. If you do find yourself watching a romance with a supernatural twist, it’s usually something akin to TWILIGHT or the many teeny-bopper flicks following in its wake. This is part of the reason that SPRING is so special. This film is a genuine romance with two compelling characters and also a sincere dark side to its plot. Besides being full of creepy imagery and slow-burning tension, SPRING manages to play out like a quirky, sweet romance. That might sound like it can’t possibly work, but ye of little faith! SPRING is more than a pleasant surprise. This is a really great film.
Evan is a young man who’s found his life in a depressing funk. His mother has just passed away. He’s also wanted by the cops for a bar fight and has lost his job as a result. With no high prospects in his future, Evan decides to make a spur of the moment decision to go to Italy. Once there, he falls head-over-heels for the lovely Louise who seems like a sweet and caring woman, but also harbors a pretty freaky side. She’s not exactly, totally…human. Though Evan and Louise have a real emotional connection, Evan might wind up dead if he stays in this relationship…but he might be willing to make that sacrifice.
I was a fan of Benson/Moorhead’s previous unique horror flick (RESOLUTION) and had been hearing a lot of praise for SPRING in the past six months. I’m so pleased to say that this film lives up to the hype. It’s damned original and refreshing on just about every conceivable level. The writing and dialogue come across as natural, even when the events are decidedly supernatural. Part of this stems from the leads having such an honest chemistry with each other. I couldn’t help but care for both Evan and Lousie (brought convincingly to life by Lou Taylor Pucci and Nadia Hilker), even though one of them is highly dangerous and otherworldly. The decision to shoot the film in Italy was a wise move as the locations are incredible and add a lot to the foreboding/beautiful atmosphere. The romance in SPRING is totally believable and that alone sells a majority of this film. There is still a grim horror element to it.
While some have speculated based on the IMDB plot synopsis, early reviews, and a trailer that SPRING revolves around a vampire, some form of the undead or even a werewolf. They couldn’t be more wrong. The actual lore being covered is far more original than that. I’m not going to spoil any specific details, but I’ll just say there’s something far more imaginative and Lovecraftian in what Louise actually is. This creature has never been covered in a film (a feat within itself) and there will likely be no more movies afterwards tackling quite the same beast. There’s plenty of creepy subtle imagery throughout (involving various dead animals littering the streets and slight body-horror touches). Most of the effects are pretty impressive (some of the best practical work I’ve seen in a while), but there are a couple of bits that look silly (particularly a scene set within a church). These flawed CGI touch-ups are the only real noticeable problems that bothered me in SPRING.
SPRING isn’t an easy sell, because there’s never been a film that’s quite like this one. The romance between the couple is genuine and could have filled a movie all by itself. Instead, the addition of a horrific legend only sweetens the deal. The bloody moments (there are a couple of scenes) really don’t dominate the screen, but do leave an impression when they come along. SPRING successfully walks the tightrope between being too creepy for its love story or too romantic for its horror elements. It’s a blend of both that makes for a unique and satisfying experience that could also double as an unconventional date night pick. No joke, it’s really a sweet romance as well as a creepy horror flick. With only two features to their names, Benson and Moorhead are proving themselves to be interesting names in independent cinema. SPRING comes highly recommended. See this film!