This Halloween season, ‘Frightful Flickers’ will be revisiting horror staples of the past, some classics (and some not-so-classic). The third film in the series is Spring, a Lovecraftian travelogue.
If you're looking for a little beauty with your scares, you can't go wrong with Spring, the most picturesque portrayal of primal body horror you can possible experience. Take a shot of Before Sunset, throw in some Beauty and the Beast, a cup of Species, maybe a sprinkle of Let the Right One In, and shake vigorously, and you'd have this film. Following my last 'Frightful Flickers' entry Revenge, this is the story of a different kind of girl - one that is a victim of horrendous, terrifying circumstance, but also one that has embraced her lot in life and is getting along just fine. One spring, she meets a young American man hiding in Italy to avoid U.S. prosecution for a fight (one in which he was protecting his friend) and it's obvious she has found a kindred spirit. Where the story goes from there, I will not spoil - I will tell you there are octopus monsters, werewolves, volcanoes, and puppy love. Make of that what you will.
"Take a shot of Before Sunset, throw in some Beauty and the Beast, maybe a sprinkle of Let the Right One In, and shake vigorously, and you'd have this film."
Some of the attempts to make the bizarre "real world" in Spring ring hollow, and there are maybe a few hokey scientific explanations for things, but I admire the film's attempt to bring the whole thing down to Earth. Most of this movie does feel real - the characters react in ways you yourself might react, even if the situations are straight out of The Twilight Zone. The movie was shot on location, and not on soundstages or in your standard horror-movie forrests, suburban houses, or looming castles. These are just two young people enjoying the majesty of old-world Italy while hiding from ghosts in their pasts. Spring is full of imagination, even though there are definitely echoes of archetypal themes running through its running time.
Although it is a lower-budget film, the director makes great use of Italy's scenery, shooting on the wondrous cobblestones streets and alleys. the roiling shores, and high above the cities with what I would guess are drone shots. This movie looks sensational. Also sensational are the leads, Lou Taylor Pucci (as Evan) and a revelation in Nadia Hilker (as Louise). Not only is Hilker stunningly beautiful, but she injects real pathos into a woman in the most extraordinary circumstances one could possible find herself in. Pucci, playing a character that could come across as a boring, white bread stereotype, really makes you like him and understand why things ultimately go they way they go.
While not your standard guts and gore horror film, Spring is a movie of people dealing with horrible things but finding their way through the maze. "Love is a Monster," reads the tagline. This monster is one you should face head on, and just see what happens. It may turn out ok.
Spring is currently available streaming on Shudder (subscription needed), and is available for rent everywhere else.
Check back for the next film in the ‘Frightful Flickers’ series, the original Friday the 13th from 1980.