With the horror genre struggling these days we cannot rely on the major studios releasing anything in terms of quality. Some of last year’s “gems” like Annabelle or yet another Paranormal Activity showcases a lack of creativity. Which is why the independent scene is so important because that is where all the scares are. Go to your ‘Video On Demand’ services and you will see a bevy of horror films just waiting for you to explore. A more recent outing you will notice comes in the shape of Spring; a European romance with a sinister twist.
The film follows Evan (Lou Taylor Pucci), a down on his luck traveler who meets the mysterious and possibly deadly Louise (Nadia Hilker) in Italy. Immediately you are going to notice how lazily Writer/Co-Director Justin Benson puts this story together. Not only is the first act of Evan getting to Italy takes forever but the conflict is not really much in focus until the climax. The problem is that this film bounces between romantic travelogue and creature feature in-between acts. Because of this the film is incredibly bloated and Benson trying to juggle the film as both makes it less compelling as it goes on.
The big reason why this mash up in story does not work is the characters. Evan is a lackadaisical druggy who never really emotes except for an admittedly funny reaction at the climax. Louise is the same way and honestly looks uninterested as she constantly explains her backstory. Since these two look bored throughout the romantic elements are not compelling and it makes the third act drag to a crawl once you realize this film is not going for the gory side of things. Honestly that should not be a deterrent because it is refreshing idea to put some horror elements into this kind of film. It is so poorly defined though it’s a mess to watch from start to finish.
Things do not get much better behind the camera as well. Directors Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead have been creating indie horror films for a while now so they should know what they are doing. But it all feels like they just turned the camera on, let the actors state their lines, and then called it a day. They have these beautiful, on-location shots of these Italian towns but it all feels matter of fact. Plus their constant tricks such as close ups of bugs or the shaky hand-held gets tiring very quickly. All of this is put together with some truly horrendous CGI and apart from some interesting, practical effects the word ‘horrendous’ pretty much sums up Spring’s overall experience.
Unfortunately, nothing about the Indie Horror film Spring works. The writing is muddled, the actors do not seem to care, and the elements that should make this film stand out are wasted. There is no doubt that Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead have good ideas as indie filmmakers but maybe they needed more time to hone things out before setting out to film. Also, just because Spring did not quite work out does not mean indie horror is also a dead end. There is a lot of fantastic pieces out there but, because they are low-key than mainstream, a little more research is probably required before jumping in.