Cult Horror: Spring

Michelle reviews Spring, a romantic horror film.

"Kiss me. I just ate some garlic."

Horror and romance films are two of the most cliché-ridden genres in all of Hollywood. However, what would happen if some gutsy directors tried to combine the two together? You would get Spring, a so-called “monster-romance” directed by relative newcomers Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead. 

Spring is a modern fairy tale with a snarky bite and grisly trappings. A young man named Evan (Lou Taylor Pucci) tries to escape his stressful and hectic life by taking a trip to Italy, and upon arriving meets a beautiful and enigmatic woman named Louise (Nadia Hilker). The relationship aspect of the plot is handled wonderfully and progresses organically. Normally, I’m not a huge fan of romance films, because they usually end up feeling contrived, but this one seems to be more subtle and realistic. Both of the characters have fully realized personalities and that makes for great chemistry on screen.

Louise is one of the better written female characters I have seen, especially in reference to the horror aspect of the film. She is intelligent, quick-witted and is also a scientific researcher which is usually a male-dominated field. It’s refreshing to see the woman being depicted as being an equal instead of a plot device to move the story along. Evan is actually the more emotionally vulnerable one in the relationship which is an interesting role reversal from other romance films. The unexpected dry-humor permeating the entire film is the glue that holds together the two diametrically opposed genres. Being scary and funny at the same time is a hard sell indeed.

"Did you just say I'm not that sexy?"
As for the “monster” part of the film, that’s more of a mixed bag. It’s essentially a body-horror film blended with creature horror a la Creature from the Black Lagoon. The special effects run the gamut from mediocre (mainly the CGI) to pretty damn good (the practical make-up). It works for the most part but does take the film down a peg—it definitely seems the limited budget did hamper the film a bit. It’s nothing egregiously terrible, but I was disappointed by some of the gore scenes. The actual look of the film as well as the cinematography is very good though. It’s softly lit with an ochre and brown color palette that makes one think of old rustic paintings from the Renaissance era. There are also some great overhead shots that showcase the beautiful architecture in Italy.

This movie is an interesting experiment in genre-bending that is mostly successful in its results. It’s like delicious vinaigrette of a film--delicately balancing an emulsion of two varied types of movies into a smooth final product. While it does have a few missteps, it’s definitely worth a look for someone who is craving something a little different.

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-Michelle Kisner