“Spring” is not your typical genre movie. You may find it in the horror section on your favorite streaming platform, but this film could just as easily be placed next to “The Notebook” if it weren’t for the love interest of our main character, who transforms into a monster you’d typically find in a story by HP Lovecraft.
Evan (Lou Taylor Pucci) just watched his mother die of cancer, lost his job as a line cook at a local bar in California, and has gotten into some trouble with the law. One night, a woman who he has petitioned to provide him with “sympathy sex,” suggests to him that he go find himself. He should leave town and get away from it all, she says, as there is nothing good left for him in his hometown. Evan takes her up on her suggestion and decides to buy a one-way ticket to Rome, Italy, where he meets Louise (Nadia Hilker), a stunningly beautiful girl that seems to take an interest in Evan immediately. What follows would best be described as a blend between “Beauty and the Beast”, and an old “Universal” monster movie, as Louise has an affliction that causes her to turn into a creature randomly.
I won’t go into the plot details any more than that, as it wouldn’t be fair to spoil the film for those who haven’t seen it. What I will say is that it might be the most resonant “love story” I’ve seen in some time, but even that statement doesn’t do it justice. The movie also touches on the importance of our mortality, and how knowing that everything is finite makes each moment more special. Would you choose to live forever if you didn’t love or appreciate anything?
It’s also quite creepy, and those who are squeamish may have trouble watching the transformation scenes. I’ll admit that I did, though it was more so for the fact that Justin Benson (“The Endless”, “Resolution”) wrote Louise as such a tragic character. On the surface, she doesn’t seem to have a single thing wrong with her. She’s incredibly sweet, which makes watching her deal with this issue at the beginning of the movie so difficult. I would compare her to Natasha Henstridge’s alien character in “Species”, only more relatable because she’s not continually killing everyone she sees.
“Spring” is beautifully filmed. There are some remarkable shots of Roman vistas, and quite a few of them have animals (bugs, lizards, etc.) in the foreground, which are brilliant examples of foreshadowing, while not feeling forced at all. I wouldn’t be surprised if I heard that these animals were things they just ran into and decided to shoot: the inclusion of them feels that natural. The movie also appears to have been shot almost entirely on handheld cameras, and that they somehow managed to film it that way without making the viewer feel like they had an epileptic seizure by trying to concentrate on what was going on (damn shaky cam!) should be commended.
Aaron Moorhead and Justin Benson have co-directed three feature films (this one being their second, "Resolution" and "The Endless" being their others), and we should be in for quite the collection of treats by following their career. With “Spring” they have created a poignant reminder that both love and death are scary, while also pointing out that life is meaningless without them.