Of all the holidays celebrated worldwide, no single day is loved by the Substream staff more than Halloween. With October’s arrival, the time has finally come to begin rolling out a slew of special features we have prepared in celebration of our favorite day.
31 Days Of Halloween is a recurring column that will run throughout the month of October. The goal of this series is to supply every Substream reader with a daily horror (or Halloween-themed) movie recommendation that is guaranteed to amplify your All Hallows’ Eve festivities. We’ll be watching every film the day it’s featured, and we hope you will follow along at home. Reader, beware, you’re in for a… spooky good time!
Day 7: Spring (2014)
Paranormal romance has always had a place in media, well before Twilight or Anne Rice, but Spring isn’t defined by what we may think that name implies. It shirks the brooding we often see in our cinematic immortals, at least of late. It’s a movie that’s light and warm, relying on the charm of its stars and the beauty of Italy to drive it. And it’s a leisurely drive.
We’re so often focused on the horror of Halloween, but monsters need not always be monstrous; some are just trying to get by in this world, experiencing its wonders and doing as little damage as possible. Spring is one of their stories.
This story is of Evan (Lou Taylor Pucci) and Louise (Nadia Hilker), an American tourist on the run from grief and a native Italian who’s lived a lot of life for someone who seems so young. They have a thoroughly modern courtship. It’s contentious, but fun. Funny, but not so much so that you can see the script. She’s the best thing to come into his life in years, but she has a life and problems of her own.
Spring luxuriates with these two as they enjoy each other and their small Italian town. The film is low-budget, but it serves the setting quite well. It has a certain warm haze that lends itself to the film’s mystique. It’s like the daydream of someone predisposed to having some science in their fiction—Before Sunrise meets H.P. Lovecraft. It’s like Julie Delpy palled around with Da Vinci, but also occasionally sprouts tentacles. It’s sweet, but there’s also bloody writing, skin-shedding, and a skeevy guy getting torn apart.
[This is the part where the spoilers start.]
Once we get the truth of that science fiction—though the hints of a primordial past are pretty telling—Spring dives right into the science. Louise is a scientist, and she’s been doing some research on herself. Just like her mother, she gets pregnant every 20 years and uses the cells to evolve (you can guess the season). That time of the century has come around.
The film spends a good amount of time delving into this, delighting in the details of Louise’s nature—and it’s quite fun, for a while. Louise seems relieved to have someone to chat about these things with, once Evan takes two seconds to get over feeling used. She gleefully drops knowledge about her extensive past—like how she hasn’t been to a certain cathedral since it was first built. Spring seems relieved, too, as it uses its limited budget to have fun gags with Louise’s continuing evolution nearly killing Evan.
This unites the relaxed dates and bits of mystery horror of the first half, but it works for a few reasons: Though abrupt, filmmakers Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead are able to fold these developments into the film’s relaxed, touristy structure. It’s also just unique enough, and just clever enough, to work. The secretive partner is benevolent, when so often that character is nefarious. It’s a familiar construct, but with blood, guts, and evolutionary rebirth fluid covering it. And Evan picks up on all of this fairly quickly, as we’d like to think anyone raised on horror movies would. To boot, the limited effects are largely practical and surprisingly effective.
This is the point when Spring lags just a bit. It introduces a rather arbitrary deadline of 24 hours before Louise’s evolution takes place, and there’s a caveat: If she falls in love, a hormone will prevent the evolution, and she will become mortal (and the kind of pregnant we’re used to). This is what her mother did 2,000 years ago. Evan is pretty into this idea, even as she scoffs.
It’s all somewhat Disney, and the ending, while not unearned, feels easy. It’s the least interesting route, even if the film does its best to justify this woman considering an immense sacrifice for her latest lover. Maybe that’s in the spirit of the film, though. Spring is a movie of heart and idyllic optimism. In that sense, maybe this fits.