Apr 3, 2015

It's a splendid love story despite its horror touches.





Grade: A-

Director: Justin Benson (Resolution), Aaron Moorhead (Dating a Zombie)

Screenplay: Benson

Cast: Lou Taylor Pucci (Evil Dead), Nadia Hilker

Runtime: 109 min

by John DeSando

“Pick your poison.” Angelo (Francesco Catnelutti)

In a dramatic horror story, Spring,  about star-crossed lovers, the above words are appropriate, showing, despite the bizarre, undead-like conflict, the vagaries and dangers of love even for the most attractive, sensitive principals. Here a ghoulish romance without excessive mayhem and stupid reactions: a thinking person’s edgy terror set in an Italian village that is beautifully antique and menacing at the same time.

Evan (Lou Taylor Pucci) falls for Italian Louise (Nadia Hilker) while he is decompressing for having just lost his father, mother, and job. The couple meets cute and passionately connects within a week (she wants to have sex immediately upon meeting him!). As you might expect, she turns out to be more than a comely geneticist, whose specialty is ironic given her malady.

The resolution of this dilemma is as complicated as her age and his coming to terms with her condition. The love play between them, as they fall deeply for each other, carries the freight through the figurative properties of the curse: Can she be capable of love, even when she offers to carry a child from their union? Will she give up a long life for him? Will he be grossed out enough by her disease to leave her? The two actors are so competent at displaying affection in this macabre circumstance that the film becomes a sweet love story rather that a horror feast.

If you think this is a monster movie in southern Italian locations that directors Justin Benson Aaron Moorhead chose to trump the Twilight series, think again. Love is in this Spring air, and the lovemaking at all levels is authentic, drawing you in sympathy for their plight, fear for her curse, and hope that the love can survive. In other words, it is superior to the Twilight Pabulum; it uses the standard horror tropes to tell a truly human tale.

In fact you could even see Louise as a modern film heroine, tough but vulnerable, alone and surviving, charismatic but troubled. He could be the quiet Ryan Gosling type, handsome, withdrawn, and working through his challenges sincerely. Even the old farmer, Angelo (Francesco Carnelutti) provides the right amount of wisdom and inscrutable warnings—see above—to anchor the eccentric proceedings in an old world charm.

Spring is unlike most other sci-fi horror flicks you have ever seen. Like gelato, it makes you feel good about the experience even when you know too much would have made you sick. Just enough here.

John DeSando, a Los Angeles Press Club first-place winner for National Entertainment Journalism, hosts WCBE’s It’s Movie Time and co-hosts Cinema Classics. Contact him at