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Spring (2014)

Drafthouse Films
Blu-ray Disc Released: 6/9/2015

All Ratings out of




Review by Mike Long, Posted on 6/18/2015

Let's assume for a moment that filmmaking is a business and the goal is to sell the most tickets and fill the seats. In order to do this, one would want to appeal to as many audience members as possible. This is where hybrid films come in. Romantic-comedies, horror-comedies, dramatic-comedies (that's a lot of comedies) mix genres which should, in theory, make the movie's audience wider. The issue here is that it's difficult to strike the proper balance between opposing styles of story-telling and if the film goes too far in one direction, it can fail. The film Spring attempts a different blending of genres and takes some interesting risks.

Evan (Lou Taylor Pucci) has been having a hard go of it lately. Following the death of his mother, he gets into a bar brawl and is convinced that the police are looking for him. He decides to flee to Europe and lands in Italy. While touring Rome, he meets two guys at a hostel and begins to travel the country with them, eventually reaching a small sea-side town. In a bar, Evan meets Louise (Nadia Hilker) and is immediately drawn to her. However, Louise rebuffs his advances, stating that she doesn't date. Evan is undaunted and decides to stay in town in order to pursue this mysterious woman. Evan finds housing and a job at a local farm, run by Angelo (Francesco Carnelutti). Evan finally convinces Louise to spend time with him and he finds her fascinating. What Evan doesn't realize is that all isn't as it seems and Louise is hiding a dark secret.

Spring comes from the Writing/Directing team of Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead, who contributed to the anthology film V/H/S: Viral and first collaborated on the movie Resolution. Here, they try something a little different and those familiar with their earlier works may assume that the filmmakers have abandoned the genre altogether, as much of the film plays like a romance meets travelogue. Actually, it takes quite some time for anything horror related to arrive in the movie. And even when it does, the focus remains on Evan's longing for Louise. If not for a few key scenes, this could have easily been a straight-ahead drama in which a man falls for an unattainable woman.

This leads us to the problems with Spring. First of all, the hybrid piece never gels. Again, the movie is about 90% drama and 10% something else. It's admirable that Benson and Moorhead attempted to throw a kink into the standard "person goes to an exotic locale and falls in love" story, but they didn't go far enough into making things "different". Now, Louise's secret is decidedly unique, there's no doubt that, but the movie attempts to yank the rug out from under the viewer, but it doesn't pull hard enough. Which brings us to the next point, which is that Louise's "secret" is incredibly convoluted and vague. So, the movie attempts to throw us a curveball, but it becomes a wild pitch as we attempt to wrap our minds around the bizarre mumbo-jumbo which is her backstory. Benson and Moorhead clearly wanted to be creative with this, but they went too far. The last point is that the movie is simply too long. Clocking in at nearly two hours, the movie simply rambles on at times. This also works to dampen any shock which may have occurred. Sure there's plenty of shots of the beautiful scenery in the area, but the movie simply languishes at times when it should have been propelling the story forward.

I always give credit where it's due and I love the fact that Benson and Moorhead wanted to take a cliched idea and add a new twist to it. I wish that more movies would take this route. However, their twist is too muddy and subtle for its own good, and while a couple of shots pack a punch, the movie is too stand-offish for its own good. If this pair can tighten up their pacing and stop holding back, they may have a promising future.

Spring only reinforced by fear of traveling abroad on Blu-ray Disc courtesy of Drafthouse Films. The film has been letterboxed at 2.35:1 and the Disc contains an AVC 1080p HD transfer which runs at an average of 27 Mbps. The image is sharp and clear, showing no overt grain and no defects from the source materials. The movie's color palette skews golden and the tones look very good here. The image is never overly dark or bright. The level of detail is very good and the depth is notable, especially in shots where Evan looks out to sea. The Disc carries a Dolby TrueHD 5.1 audio track which runs at 48 kHz and an average of 3.8 Mbps. The track provides clear dialogue and sound effects. The stereo effects are very good, as multiple scenes use the front channels to draw our attention to things occurring off-screen. The surround effects are good as well, especially those which highlight the ocean sounds. The subwoofer comes into play during the shock scenes.

The Spring Blu-ray Disc has an outrageous thirteen extra features! We begin with an AUDIO COMMENTARY from Writer/Producer/Editor/Director Justin Benson and Producer/Editor/Cinematographer/Director Aaron Moorhead. "The Making of Spring" (70 minutes) opens with an introduction from Benson and Moorhead who state that they wanted to make a homemade EPK. So we get on-set and behind-the-scene footage shot by the cast and crew showing many different elements of the film's production and a lot of the Italian scenery. The Disc contains two DELETED SCENES which run about 3 minutes. "SFX Case Studies" (1 minute) is a reel of the different animals which were used as inspiration for the monster, along with concept art and early CG tests. "Proof of Concept" (2 minutes) is a scene (with other actors playing the main roles) showing what the movie could be. The "Alternate Ending" (4 minutes) is actually an extended ending which tacks on one more scene at the end. "Toronto Film Festival Promo" (1 minutes) has Benson and Moorhead introducing the movie. "Fantastic Fest Promo" (2 minutes) is an odd mini-movie with Benson and Moorhead. "Note" (2 minutes) takes a scene from the movie and makes a joke out of it. "The Talented Mr. Evan" (2 minutes) is an "Inside joke for lovers of The Talented Mr. Ripley". "Angelo, The Worst Farmer" (2 minutes) breaks down the scenes on the farm showing that they make no sense. "Wankster Girlfriend Monologue" (2 minutes) is another deleted scene, this one in rehearsal form. "Evan Ti Odio" (4 minutes) is a black & white, silent short film.

Review Copyright 2015 by Mike Long