Horror Hybrid Genre: Horror Romance
As any avid horror film fan knows, horror hybrid genre films are rising in popularity, both with filmmakers and viewers. “Spring” (dir. Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead) is arguably one of the best horror-themed films released in theaters and on DVD/VOD this year.
The film stars Lou Taylor Pucci (“Evil Dead,” 2013) and Nadia Hilker (“Zimmer mit Tante,” 2010, and “Die Route,” 2010) as Evan, a young American who goes vagabonding to Italy in the wake of his mother’s death, and Louise, an Italian genetics student looking for a quick hookup. The unlikely romance between Evan and Louise is a complicated one, as there is much more to Louise’s history than she’s initially willing to reveal to him. It’s a nail-biter as well, as the film refuses to reveal whether or not the relationship will live (or someone will die) until its very last moment.
Since it is a hybrid rather than a straight genre film, “Spring” could have been ruined by a less-than-excellent execution of just about any aspect of its making. Instead, the directors, cast, and crew all are in top form. Post-production, including film and sound editing and the musical score, turned the resulting footage into a film that transforms its beginning as the story of a young man coping with major life changes into a picturesque Italian romance, then takes a sharp yet deftly-handled turn into the horror genre. There are even Giallo-like features, although the Giallo paradigm is turned on its head in terms of male and female roles. The end result is a true hybrid (like Louise herself) that avoids being pigeonholed into the stereotypes of any one genre.
Premiering at the 2014 Toronto International Film Festival, “Spring” went on to screen at many other festivals. Directors Benson and Moorhead won the “Directors to Watch” award at the 2015 Palm Springs International Film Festival and the “Best Director – International Film” at the 2015 Fantaspoa International Fantastic Film Festival. Pucci won “Best Actor” at the 2014 Austin Fantastic Fest. After a brief run in theaters in the U.S., the film is now available via VOD and on DVD (I watched it on a DVD from Netflix).
For an in-depth yet spoiler-free discussion of “Spring,” listen to the Last Knock podcast episode (hosted by Billy Crash and Jonny Numb of Crash Palace Productions) devoted to the film. First, watch the trailer: