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05 Jan 2015

PSIFF: 'Spring' Adds Great Dialogue and Even a Little Romance to the Horror-Film Genre

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Nadia Hilker and Lou Taylor Pucci in Spring. Nadia Hilker and Lou Taylor Pucci in Spring.

Horror films tend to repeat the same themes and character types (see: vampires, werewolves, disfigured slashers in masks, etc.). However, the film Spring—which received a late-Saturday night, Jan. 3, showing at the Palm Canyon Theatre as part of the Palm Springs International Film Festival—shows that horror films can be created that feel new and different.

As the film opens, a woman on her deathbed is being cared for by her son, Evan (Lou Taylor Pucci). She begins to tell Evan a joke—but dies before she can complete it. Next, we see Evan pounding drinks after the funeral at the bar where he works. Evan gets in a fight with another customer; the following morning, after discovering the man filed charges, he’s shown in an airport shuttle van talking on his cell phone to an airline. He decides to flee to Italy.

After Evan arrives, he meets up with two backpackers in a hostel; they decide to invite him on a road trip to a coastal tourist town. After spending time in the mysterious coastal city, he encounters a beautiful Italian woman named Louise (Nadia Hilker). Evan decides to stay behind and finds a room in exchange for working on a man’s farm. Before long, Evan and Louise are in the midst of a passionate love affair.

Of course, this is a horror film, so things won’t quite be happily ever after. Evan discovers something strange about Louise; we see scenes in which Louise transforms into various monsters, feeding on animals and an even American tourist who rudely propositions her in an alley. Evan tries to understand what Louise is going through; when she reveals herself and begins to tell him the truth, their love only seems to strengthen.

Yes, Spring includes a love story, but it’s not overly sappy—and it’s certainly not a “normal” tale of romance. The film does an excellent job with entertaining and meaningful dialogue that doesn’t detract from the main sci-fi/horror storyline. Both Pucci and Hilker turn in brilliant performances, and the two have great on-screen chemistry.

In the program for the film festival, Spring is described as “Richard Linklater meets H.P. Lovecraft.” That sounds about right. In any case, Spring offers a breath of fresh air to sci-fi/horror fans, reviving a genre that far too often relies on remakes, gimmicks and repetitive writing.

Watch www.facebook.com/springmovie for updates on release information.

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