Movie Review - Spring
This is less a 'movie review,' and more of a love letter to Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead's latest film, Spring. And that's because Spring is less a 'horror film', and more of a love story that is equal parts Richard Linklater and H. P. Lovecraft. The opening moments of the film alone literally brought tears to my eyes, and the journey that follows is a poignant and haunting masterpiece. It is a film that transcends genres and revels in the mystery of the human condition. It is an exploration of what it means to truly love another person, that is at times hilarious, and in other moments utterly heartbreaking. It manages to use a linear narrative to explore an almost abstract idea, making the whole experience feel somehow dreamlike and simultaneously grounded in reality. And above all it is a film that will leave you completely spellbound. Spring is now available on iTunes and in select theaters and is an absolute must-see. It is not only one of my favorite horror movies of the year, but it is among my favorite films of the last five years.
When Evan's mother passes away from cancer, he is left with nothing but a bunch of drinking buddies, one of whom owns a bar. The night of his mother's funeral, Evan is having some drinks with his friends when he is drawn into a bar fight in which he severely injures another man. After the police come looking to arrest him for assault, and upon his friend's advice, Evan grabs the first flight to anywhere and leaves his world behind. When he arrives in Italy he immediately befriends two loud-mouthed English travelers, whom he joins for a trip down the coast. When the trio arrive, they find innumerable distractions but none so much as Evan's discovery of the stunning and elusive, Louise. But when he seems to instantly fall for her, his ideas of love and commitment, as well as his notions of what it means to be human, are challenged by the very truth of what it takes to love another person unconditionally. And what it means to be loved in return.
The success of the film rests not only on the shoulders of writer-director Justin Benson and co-writer Aaron Moorhead, but much like their previous film Resolution, on the strength of the two leading actors. First and foremost, Lou Taylor Pucci is sublime as Evan. His earnest depiction of every emotion in the spectrum is beyond captivating. He manages to make Evan feel real and empathetic throughout every high and low of the human experience, and he makes it look effortless. He is mesmerizing, as is his costar, leading actress Nadia Hilker. Her enigmatic beauty feels other-worldly, making her absolutely perfect in the role of Louise. Their onscreen chemistry is undeniable from the first moment the two characters lock eyes until the film's staggering conclusion. Though credit must also be given to a solid supporting cast whose personas were essential in making the film feel authentic and multi-dimensional. Vinny Curran and Francesco Carnelutti both add a light-hearted charm to the story, while supporting actress Holly Hawkins is devastating. The entire ensemble is stellar.
Additional credit must be given to some of the film's other contributors, like Bianca Appice for her work in special effects. She manages to make Louise's transformation seem almost real, despite it's fantastic nature. In fact the entire makeup department should probably share in that praise as well, because they truly did a phenomenal job. But kudos must also be given to Jimmy Lavelle of the band The Album Leaf, who weaves together the symphonic textures of Sigur Ros and his own original compositions to create a dynamic sonic landscape that provides the perfect compliment to the stirring visual presentation that is Spring.
Benson and Moorhead are not only creating some of the most interesting and ground-breaking cinema around, but they're doing so with style. Their films manage to challenge the unwritten constructs of the genre, and film making in general, while still presenting us with relatable characters and engrossing stories. They are both relentlessly talented and deserve to be lavished with high compliments. I truly look forward to watching their continued growth as film makers, and hope they continue to work together in the future. In the meantime, Spring is a film that absolutely must-be experienced by anyone who appreciates the dark and unexplainable nature of the human condition. Available on iTunes and in select theaters, this is one that is not to be missed. Enjoy.
- Leo Francis