***This Review Contains Very Mild Spoilers***Spring is a marketing agency’s worst nightmare. It is also a masterpiece, for precisely the same reason: it defies genre in a way that no other film has for the last five years. Rather than just cherry picking elements of other film types, it somehow manages to span them all, feeling less like a hybrid of different styles and more like a new style entirely. It is moving, it is beautiful, it is terrifying and it is funny. It exudes heart and warmth. And it might be the only film in existence that features both Lovecraftian horror and a climax with the power to leave the viewer in tears.
The film opens with our hero Evan Russell (brilliantly and sensitively played by Lou Taylor Pucci) at his very lowest. Caught between a number of rocks and a myriad of hard places, he decides to travel to Italy, but it is as much exile as it is a holiday trip. Initially exploring the country with a pair of deliciously hideous English backpackers, he eventually runs into the woman of his dreams, the beautiful and enigmatic Louise (Nadia Hilker.) But before long it becomes clear that Louise is hiding a very serious affliction, one that is manifesting itself in increasingly grotesque ways.
Much has been made of the way Spring shifts styles, but the genius of the film rests on how fluid these transitions feel. The first thirty minutes of the movie aren’t a bait and switch – we the audience aren’t being tricked – and the opening is as integral to the story as what follows. Indeed, there is another tonal shift, one that takes place just in time for the film’s final third, and this too never feels manipulative or cheap. It feels like an integral part of the tale.
David Cronenberg once described the horror genre as being the most literary of all film types, due to the fact it is the only form of art in which the metaphor can be made visible. Spring takes this declaration to heart, and in its final third becomes about nothing less than the nature of mortality itself. It explores love – truly explores it – and is both a condemnation and a celebration of the self-defeating idea that love can be timeless when it can only be expressed by mortal, time bound forms.
Spring isn’t – as it has been described – a horror film with romantic elements mixed in. Neither it is a rom-com with dark undertones. It is something new; something brave; and something utterly unlike any other film you’ve ever seen. It demands your attention.