Can you believe it dear reader? My wish actually came true today! I actually saw an original movie with decent performances and I want to shout it from a mountain! Spring is here! We’ve made it through the frozen wasteland of cinema that is the first quarter of 2015! Stories will blossom, well-crafted dialogue will sing melodies over the meadows filled with

multi-dimensional characters, and we shall bask in the blissful light of genuine entertainment! We survived! Incidentally the movie I saw was entitled Spring and it was a refreshing take on a simple love story with a splash of horror and a few satisfying sci-fi twists.

Sometimes when life’s a bitch you just have to escape and start afresh. That’s what Lou Taylor Pucci’s character of Evan did in the movie after all. When both his parents die rather unexpectedly and he has a grief-fueled scuffle with a drunk at his restaurant, Evan is faced with the classic ‘get outta Dodge’ scenario and runs off to Italy on a whim. After bumming around with some other travelers and doing the whole EuroTrip thing, he winds up in a small Italian coastal town where he meets the mysterious and enchanting Louise (Nadia Hilker).

It’s one of those boy meets girl, boy falls madly in love with girl, girl harbors otherworldly secret kind of romance stories. I won’t spoil any of the fairytale horror, but I should advise you against dismissing this as just another Vampire romance story as that couldn’t be further from the actual nature of the film. Don’t get me wrong, fans of the vampire subgenre will thoroughly enjoy Spring, but it’s a film for any and all Monster Movie lovers out there. There’s a smattering of An American Werewolf in London, some Let the Right One In, and of course some good old homages to H.P. Lovecraft.

Incidentally, for those Cthulhu fans out there, I invite you to check out Other Worlds Austin’s latest year-round screening of Call Girl of Cthulhu that’s going to be playing at Alamo Village on April 16th. See Spring first and then go support an awesome local film festival if you’re in the Austin area.

Back to the movie at hand – Spring was everything I hoped an independent minimalist horror film could be. There’s a perfectly balanced narrative that is as beautiful as it is disgusting. Overall both the cinematography and the characters have a nice realism component and directors Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead have done a phenomenal job of instilling their film with a level of sweetness, despite there being a growing feeling of dread with every scene.

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The pacing is pretty slow, kind of on the order of a Linklater film, but for the most part the long conversation scenes are fairly engaging. You’re treated to a lot of revealing and intimate moments between Evan and Louise, and none of the exposition or other bits of dialogue feel at all contrived or unnecessary. Later on in the film, once the twist has been revealed, the conversations take on much more an existential nature, and I found myself getting a The Man from Earth vibe as well as flashbacks to the Star Trek TOS episode Requiem for Methuselah.

Nadia Hilker easily steals the show as Louise both in terms of her physical beauty and with her multi-faceted performance. She’s fragile, alluring, and innocently monstrous while still revealing a slightly comedic side with her interactions with Evan. Both leads show real chemistry and it’s refreshing to not have a forced romance, but rather one that the audience can be participant in as it grows organically on screen. The twist is a clever sci-fi spin on a classic horror story and one that was enriched with the casting of Miss Hilker.

Evan is your typical everyman swept off his feet by an Italian goddess and a character you can easily sympathize with for all the hardships he goes through in such a short time. I haven’t seen the Evil Dead remake yet, but I have it on good authority that Lou Taylor Pucci has a decent performance in that as well. The character feels genuine, and his story is an easy one to relate to – especially for yours truly. Unfortunately for me, while he went to Italy and met a hot babe, I just escaped to Alaska and brooded alone over loves lost, uncertainty in my future and the disappointing ending to Mass Effect 3 (I’m still upset about that by the way).

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At any rate, I found no vampiric vixens in the land of ice and snow, though you would have expected at least one after seeing 30 Days of Night right? I guess the thing that most resonated with me about Spring is more in line with its discussion on the nature of falling in love and the profoundness of some of the films other central themes. It’s a film that examines love, loneliness, the finiteness of life, and of course the irreversible nature of choice.

The soundtrack is haunting and fear-inducing, the cinematography is a refreshing blend of claustrophobic takes and omniscient aerial tracking shots, and the natural lighting manifests a truly terrifying atmosphere of uncertainty and intimacy. I would have loved to give this movie a solid 4.5/5, but there are times that the exposition takes away from the poetic side of the film. Occasionally it gets bogged down in its own logic and this detracts from the central themes of love at first sight and the fleeting nature of life.


The Bottom Line:

Spring is easily one of the more engaging monster/romance movies out there. It’s not quite up to par with something like Let the Right One In, but it’s a wholly original story with strong characters and a minimalist atmosphere. It’s a beautiful mix of horror, romance, and science fiction sprinkled with some comedic flare from time to time. Don’t be turned off thinking this is just your run of the mill vampire film as there is so much more to be found in the horror aspects. It’s casual in its presentation, and through the use of interesting camera work and engaging characters, we ultimately arrive at an immensely satisfying ending.

Considering I was about to lose some faith in humanity after I saw an advertisement heralding Insurgent as the #1 film in the world, but Spring was a welcome respite from this awful cinema drought we’ve been going through. It’ll restore your love of film just enough to float you through the next two weeks when Ex Machina comes out.

4 out of 5 stars