Monday, April 27, 2015

Film Review: Spring (2014)

Copyright: XYZ Films
Spring movie will not work as a horror film, it dawned on me almost from the first moment the main character Evan enters a conversation with his friends in a bar and right after his mother dies.

Immediately, in a very self-aware and awkward way, the script is trying to convey the idea that it is very much in control of its inherent horror tropes and ideas. It will not cater to our expectation as a horror-loving audience, it body proclaims through witty dialogues and by sending its main character to a part exile, part road trip to Italy.

There, Evan meets a mysterious, but beautiful girl with whom he shares a love of being a smart-ass. But, in the distance of their growing relationship, something is amiss and it involves monsters, but also hurt puppy feelings. Here, the focus of the film is much more honest and relevant. As Even tries to get laid, but then not much later, tries to hold onto the woman of his life, the narrative structure of the film is solid.

But then, the whole supernatural-bodily terror vibe of the Spring movie as a horror has to be shown and like parents returning home too soon to find their child making out with the babysitter, it kills the mood. Here, the film feels forced and robbed of all spontaneity which it otherwise wears with pride when it comes to, for example, acting.

I’m almost under the impression that Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead, who directed the film, got stuck with the horror genre through some production deal with the devil and had to make it work. The same can be seen in many aerial shots made by a helicopter drone which would be better suited for a medium-budget tourist commercial of the same area.

In the Spring movie, the beautiful shots of the Italian coast just look like they were shot because the directors had to take that damn drone, so they crammed its footage into the film no matter how needed (or completely unneeded) it actually was.

But still, there is a spark of really potent energy in this film. I was most impressed by its quirky and unexpected humor, but also by the general vibe of other films that feature an American lost on the old Continent. Unfortunately, these bright spots were drowned by the unnecessary long ending sequence and the horror angle that just was not there. While films like Housebound and Suburban Gothic use elements of humor and characters that don’t fit into their new surroundings and make them work with the horror and the tension, this one mishandled it all the way through.