“We’re born alone, we live alone, we die alone. Only through our love and friendship can we create the illusion for the moment that we’re not alone.” Looking into the eyes of Evan’s dying mother as he grips her frail hand we know that Orson Welles was right. Evan’s mother looks afraid of her final journey and her death leaves Evan abandoned on the raft of life, flotsam and jetsam tossed across a cruel sea. His father is long departed and Evan gave up his dreams of college to care for his mother and work as a chef in a local bar.
After punching the golden grills right out of a local hood’s mouth, Tim Roth lookalike Evan follows his wasted friend Mike’s advice to “change up his environment” and blow America for the cultured life in Italy. He’s a likeable soul boozing away with two itinerant Brits, one a professional Cockney right out of the Danny Dyer School of hard fucking knocks. The ominous shots of a tempestuous sea or eerie overhead angles that seem to render Evan and his new pals vulnerable to some dreadful European conspiracy fill us with dread as we fear they will stumble into the torturous world of films like “Hostel.”
In fact “Spring” has the courage to totally wrong foot its audience and replicate what really happens when young 20something travellers meet abroad, split up and go their separate ways without too much fuss or hullabaloo. Italy to Evan is a sunlit wonder, full of nooks and crannies, a sense of Old World discovery haunted by Giallo doorways or the voyeurism of “Don’t Look Now.” Blissfully unaware of the foreboding sense of encroaching nature, revealed by squirming caterpillars, spiders and insects, Evan meets a girl in a blood red dress called Louise who immediately bewitches him, so much so that he takes a farm job with the introspective and heartbroken Angelo in order to court her affections.
Their whirlwind romance has the bouquet of fine wine and sea air, both able to flex their lyrical dexterity as only hip movie types can. Their chemistry is electric, crackling amongst the screeching of terrified cats and animal remains near hilltop shrines. Louise is an impossibly European genetic researcher who could eat uncultured Americans for breakfast, lunch and dinner–and of course she has. Louise harbours a deep, slimy, tentacle secret that crept up from the sea and into her very DNA. She’s a nice girl but a terrible monster, slithering and glopping at the most inopportune moments, every so often slamming a syringe into her neck to prolong the inevitable.
When Evan discovers her secret Louise it at her worst, way beyond a bad hair day or a bad case of stomach cramps. Evan’s reaction puts a stake through the heart of each sub genre one at a time. He asks her if she’s a “vampire, werewolf, zombie, witch or alien,” but she’s neither, and like any woman we are fortunate to be in love with she defies categorization–much like “Spring” itself. The co-directors Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead have fashioned a Mumblegore, Lovecraftian love story–tiny in the grand schemes of the cosmos but epic in its sense of reach within the human heart. At times Louise’s eyes resemble those of Evan’s mother but with Evan she clasps at the illusion that she is not alone.