*Inhales deeply and sneezes* Yep, Spring is definitely around the corner. With new flowers beginning to bloom, spring is not only a time for allergies, but a time for rebirth and growth. With all the physical changes happening to the environment, the season usually compels people to change emotionally as well; a fresh start. In this analysis, we’re going to take a look at a movie that displays these themes of rebirth and new beginnings. It also just so happens to share the name of the upcoming season: Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead’s brilliant romantic horror film, Spring.
The directing duo is known for their superb writing and blending of genres and Spring is perhaps their best work. The film is a body horror AND a monster movie (with some sci-fi flavor) but above all else, Spring is a love story. The movie follows Evan (Lou Taylor Pucci, Evil Dead), whose life and emotions are all over the place. His mother passes, he loses his job, and he’s on the run from the police. Naturally, he fleas to Italy and falls for the beautiful Louise (Nadia Hilker, The Walking Dead)…who turns out to be an immortal being that takes the form of various monsters prior to re-birthing herself (I promise I will explain).
“Justin Benson & Aaron Moorhead might be the most talented directing duo working today”
Evan is searching for purpose, to deal with emotions of losing his parents, while Louise is trying to control the monstrous side effects of her evolution. With that all in mind, let’s break down how Evan’s emotional journey and Louise’s physical transformation mirror each other in the context of a modern monster movie. Spoilers Ahead!
Before getting into the nitty-gritty, some overall praise for Spring. The two leads, absolutely kill it here. The thing with most monster movies is the romance often feels forced or one-sided, but the relationship here feels so genuine. The idea of falling in love in a week is poked at many times by Louise, but you believe it by the end of the film. Which is big testament to the writing, the screenplay is outstanding. Benson & Moorhead not only accurately portray human interactions like being drunk or flirting, but they subvert many romantic and monster movie tropes. Also shout out to the guys for shooting and editing the film themselves. With 3 fantastic films under their belt, Justin Benson & Aaron Moorhead might be the most talented directing duo working today.
Planting The Seed
To dig deeper into the film, let’s start with some of the motifs of Spring. The physical and emotional aspects connect throughout the film, through little recurring elements. The smallest, yet most significant element are hands, which symbolize Evan’s emotional journey. We first see a close-up of Evan holding his mother’s hand as she dies, marking the beginning of his journey dead inside. Later, Evan gets into the fight that gets him in deep water, forcing him to leave and injuring his hand. When everything is going well in Italy with Louise, his hand is healed. When they break up, he re-injures his hand by punching a wall, showing regression in his emotional growth. And at the end, we get a close-up of the two holding hands showing she has fallen in love with him, choosing to retain her current form.
Being masters of visual storytelling, Benson & Moorhead pepper recurring physical elements throughout Spring, reflecting the emotional journey of Evan. Whether it be the flowers blooming and dying at different points of Evan and Louise’s relationship or Evan’s smoking to cope with emotions he can’t handle. There’s a great line of dialogue directly linking the cigarettes to Evan’s emotional motives, where he offers to quit smoking to continue dating. Louise simply says “Don’t quit for me,” because though she is there to help him, she reminds him that his emotional journey is for himself. There’s even a bit of Louise making fun of Evan for not having much clothes. Just as he refuses to buy more clothes and change his outfits, Evan is struggling to move on and grow.
“While Evan is going through an emotional rebirth, Louise is experiencing literal, physical rebirth”
Evan’s emotional journey is mirrored by Louise’s physical transformation. Louise is over 2000 years old and every 20 years during the spring season, she gets pregnant and harvests her own embryonic cells to create new cells. Essentially, she regenerates herself into a new form to continue her immortality. While Evan is going through an emotional rebirth, Louise is experiencing literal, physical rebirth. She is also not wanting to move on, disliking the idea of dying and watching those she loves around her die. And though her transformation is more grotesque and painful is, we still sympathize more with Evan who’s transformation isn’t for selfish reasons.
However, these journeys eventually merge by the end. Evan finally baring his true emotions and Louise falling in love with him, stopping the transformation and losing her immortality. The film ends with Louise laying her head in Evan’s lap accepting her fate, mirroring an earlier scene of Evan laying his head in her lap after opening up emotionally for the first time.
Reaching Full Maturity
Serving as mainly a backdrop for the love story, Spring is a wonderful homage to classic monster movies while subverting a lot of the main tropes. Rather than the female protagonist falling for a male monster, they flip it. Louise is the one who comes onto Evan. She’s very straight forward, to which most guys would jump at the chance to sleep with a beautiful woman, but he refuses in favor of asking her on a date. The scope of this monster movie is small. There’s no high body count, or angry mobs. Rather than the male monster saving the female protagonist from evil men, the film chooses to center on Louise saving Evan emotionally. Usually in a monster movie, the one undergoing a horrific transformation is the victim, but not here.
For such a low budget, the make-up FX for Louis’s various forms is quite fantastic. Not only pulling off one monster design, but multiple. Each one takes inspiration from iconic horror monster throughout cinema. The first we see is Louise with grey skin and sharp teeth. Her skin burns in sunlight, a red herring that she was a vampire. Later we see her in a more animalistic form, similar to a werewolf, but her main form is this amphibious creature of sorts, with scales, tentacles, and a scorpion-like tail. In the film, she describes these forms as creatures from our evolutionary past, implying she inspired these famous movie monsters. Spring perfectly respects the classic monsters before it while becoming a worthy entry to the canon itself.
“Spring is a wonderful homage to classic monster movies while subverting a lot of the main tropes […] The scope of this monster movie is small. There’s no high body count, or angry mobs.”
To wrap up, Spring perfectly stitches together elements of romance, drama, and horror to create a beautiful Frankenstein of a genre film. Love stories are nothing new when it comes to monster movies, but this one captures that magic and tells a compelling story of two people trying to start fresh. This film is the epitome of rebirth, physically and emotionally Benson & Moorhead are ridiculously talented, if you haven’t seen The Endless or Resolution, I highly recommend checking them out. But if you want to go straight for their creme de la creme, give Spring a watch!
What did you think of Justin Benson & Aaron Moorehead’s Spring? What’s your favorite horror movie about starting fresh? Let’s talk about it on Twitter, in the official NOFS SubReddit, and on Facebook in the Horror Movie Fiend Club!