Film Review : Spring (2015)

IMDB Score – 6.6
Rotten Tomato Score – 89%
Metacritic Score – 69/100

Directed By – Justin Benson and Aaron Moorehead
Starring – Lou Taylor Pucci, Nadia Hilker, Francesco Carnelutti, Augie Duke, and Jeremy Gardner

A young man in a personal tailspin flees the US to Italy, where he sparks up a romance with a woman harboring a dark, primordial secret.

I’ve bitched on this site before about how Horror movies need to start getting more creative. I’ve said that even if the acting or visuals are lacking in places, an original script can triumph over anything. This is case and point when it comes to Spring, directed by the guys who gave us the original film about addiction and the supernatural, “Resolution”. The trailer posted above doesn’t give TOO much away. It certainly is better to go into this, like every movie, knowing as little as possible. Seeing it won’t ruin much though. The film centers around a guy named Evan who goes to Italy to get away from his depressing life full of heartbreak and failure. He meets a girl named Louise and over the course of the next week, things happen.

So the film is labeled as a horror movie I mean, I opened up this review by talking about horror movies so what else would it be? This is a special kind of film though. The horror elements will satisfy people looking to get creeped out and scared, but this film has much deeper meaning and effect. The heart of Spring is the romance between these two lovers. The fact that the romantic aspect is coupled with a sci-fi/monster/horror film makes it that more special. This isn’t Jennifer’s Body, which was horrible apparently, but it also isn’t Let The Right One In. The story begins to unfold more towards the end of the film and here is where the real beauty lies. The mythology, while a bit confusing at times, still presents something I haven’t seen before in film. Telling what that is would spoil the story, but trust me, it’s interesting. The film also utilizes some straight forward romantic writing, almost as if Benson watched the Before trilogy a bunch of times before writing this script. I’m a sucker for those kind of films, so I ate this right up.

It’s not perfect though. For one, I wasn’t fond of the acting that much. Nadia Hilker was very good and this film should serve as a stepping stone to bigger things, but the acting from the rest of the cast was average at best. I just couldn’t see Evan, played by Lou Taylor Pucci, as a real person. I felt I was watching an actor. That’s never good. I don’t feel he’s a bad actor by any means. Hell, we’ve all seen a thousand worse performances from indie film actors. A story like this just needed a strong male performance to go along with Hilker and the nature of the script. The plot was also muddy at times. I got the gist of the film and the impact was felt, but it could have been a lot more polished and clean. I had to do a bit of reading afterward to get most of the story arcs.

The film is also gorgeously shot on location in Italy. I’ve always read that Italy can be a bit of a drag with all the tourists and scam artists buzzing around major cities and villages. The main town that this film takes place in however is a fucking beautiful place that I feel I could visit and never come back from. The lush landscape was captured very well by what I’m assuming was a drone camera. Lots of great shots of waves crashing onto rocks and some great color grading that gave the film a warmth about it. It was pretty.

My movie watching habits are changing. I’m finding less time to watch films and less things in the theater interest me. As long as I have films like this come in the mail however, film will still fascinate me. I love original ideas and I love when these ideas come in hybrid packages. Romantic horror films like this could end up becoming one of my favorite things to watch if their done correctly. This is definitely worth the watch and I’ll be anxiously waiting to see what Benson and Moorehead come up with next.


Film Review : Berberian Sound Studio (2013)

IMDB Score – 6.3
Rotten Tomato – 83%
Netflix Instant Watch

Directed By – Peter Strickland
Starring – Toby Jones, Cosimo Fusco, Antonio Mancino, Fatma Mohamed, and Chiara D’Anna

A sound engineer’s work for an Italian horror studio becomes a terrifying case of life imitating art.

Horror is a genre that I find myself very amateur in. I’ve seen the essentials but have yet to really delve into the subculture that is the horror genre. Naturally I’ve missed some of the cult favorites that came out of Italy in the 70s. I think the only Italian horror film I’ve seen is Dario Argento’s “Suspiria” and to be honest I’m going to have to watch that again because I didn’t find it that great. Perhaps it’s a taste thing. Maybe it’ll develop over time. Peter Stricklands’ film is almost an homage to these films but strives for something original in the process. The film centers on sound engineer Gilderoy who is played with such subtly by Toby Jones. Gilderoy is hired by a bunch of pompous Italian filmmakers to engineer the sound for their horror film.

To be honest, I really didn’t get most of the film. I have some theories but ultimately the film is up to interpretation. It’s a slow burn. I actually had to finish it in two sittings. The reason being that the majority of the film is focused on the actual work of Gilderoy. There are long steady shots of Jones focusing on the audio being piped through his headset from the sound booth in front of him. His steady hands reach for the soundboard to manipulate the screams coming through. It’s a sensory driven film. Naturally the audio in the film is top notch as most of the tension and creepiness is taken from scenes involving the actresses’ blood curdling screams. Gilderoy, who is visibly disturbed by such a film, reacts with such subdued emotion but his eyes show how much discomfort he is in listening to such sounds.

The second half of the film, if you can get there, takes a very sharp right turn as if David Lynch was behind the wheel. This is where the essence of the film is felt as we are probed to decide what we are watching. Debates on how the film ends and what has been actually happening are divided arguments. I personally don’t have an idea of what was going on but it was fun ride getting there. Perhaps I’ll revisit it. It’s certainly an ambitious and unique take on the horror genre.