A monster mash-up…
Chances are you won’t have seen Resolution, the 2012 debut of writer/directors Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead. A critical hit on the horror festival circuit that went straight to DVD in the UK, it was likened to Cabin In The Woods, only smaller, cheaper and even smarter.
This second feature (coming after their ‘Bonestorm’ segment of V/H/S: Viral) only confirms the arrival of a dynamic duo. At once familiar and outlandish, Spring is an affecting walk’n’talk romance in the vein of Richard Linklater’s Before… trilogy but its destination is a phantasmagorical land of WTF.
Knocked out by the death of his mother, twentysomething American Evan (Thumbsucker’s Lou Taylor Pucci) takes an impulsive vacation to Italy, where he meets beautiful genetics student Louise (Nadia Hilker). They stroll, they flirt, they tumble into bed… they might even fall in love, if Louise wasn’t forever disappearing like Cinderella at the ball. If Cinderella slipped away to inject herself with a freaky serum, that is.
Feeding the audience answers before Evan, it’s a measure of just how ‘out there’ Spring is that we know our hero is cleaving too close to normality when he enquires if Louise is some sort of “vampire, werewolf, zombie, witch or alien?” He’d be better off asking himself what it would look like if a young David Cronenberg adapted a Lovecraft tale after watching Andrzej Zulawski’s cult 1981 horror Possession.
To say more would be to ruin the surprise but, as with Resolution, the fun is in watching the directors display an affectionate awareness of genre tropes while turning them inside out. It’s rare indeed to find a modern horror film more interested in characters than plot or body count, and the naturalistic storytelling pays dividends. No matter how gooey the (largely practical) effects in the final act, this remains a human drama with emotional kick.
4 out of 5
Strong performances, intriguing gender politics, a warm narrative, dollops of wicked humour and some show-stopping transformations that are all ick and eek.