Celluloid Screams 2014: Spring Review.
A young American man named Evan (Lou Taylor Pucci) ventures to Italy from California following the tragic death of his mother to cancer. Along the way he meets Louise (Nadia Hilker), a beautiful, enigmatic woman who captures his heart. The two embark on an intense romance set in the Italian backdrop; however how much do we really know about a person in the early stages of a relationship? Spring certainly explores this with a mythological metaphor that brings in its own unique take on the ‘creature feature’.
When you began reading this I bet you thought, ‘is she actually talking about a horror movie?’ Spring is the perfect example of the diverseness of the horror genre. There’s a romantic drama at the film’s core with the horror elements in place as representations for the anxieties of a new relationship, with Louise harbouring a dark secret which will threaten what she and Evan have begun to develop. The trope of the tourist in a foreign country is also at play however is portrayed with its own originality that makes it stand apart from other genre-related films that contains this plotline. Spring could be considered a slow-burner as it takes its time to craft its storytelling and develop the characters; it’s in no rush to get to any big revelations straight away which gives the film an excellent quality.
Spring is Aaron Moorhead and Justin Benson’s second feature following the superb Resolution from 2012. Once again the directorial duo have created a film with an incredible level of depth in exploring human relationships. Much like Resolution centred on the state of friendship in a life-threatening situation, Spring replicates this with the focus on romantic relations. Moorhead’s flawless cinematography captures the idyllic Italian location, bringing out a sense of romanticism and showcasing what a beautiful place Puglia is. There’s plenty of humour injected into the film that adds to its realistic edge (when you take out the monster angle!), there’s a typical yet tongue-in-cheek Welsh joke that was particularly a surprising addition.
As well as the sharp direction and breath-taking cinematography the greatest strength in Spring is the performances from lead actors Lou Taylor Pucci and Nadia Hilker as the lovers. Both are convincing combined with undeniable chemistry that bring Evan and Louise to life, enabling the audience to invest in them as characters and care about what will happen to them. Pucci plays Evan as determined as he enters a new transitional phase in his life, Benson writes him as the type of guy who lives for the moment. Nadia Hilker is a very striking actress; she portrays Louise as a vulnerable individual, struggling to deal with what’s happening to her but as the kind of woman who will put on a front with others to mask her anxieties.
With gripping writing, captivating visuals, its own creative mythology and phenomenal performances, Spring is the most outstanding film of Celluloid Screams 2014. Now having two fantastic pieces of work in the bag, it’ll be intriguing to see what Moorhead and Benson will come up with next as they’re becoming two innovative filmmakers to watch. Without explicitly putting a particular genre label on their films, Moorhead and Benson prove to be daring in their vision offering something different for film-going audiences.
Hayley Alice Roberts.