Spring ****Dirs: Justin Benson, Aaron Moorhead. With: Lou Taylor Pucci, Nadia Hilker, Vanessa Bednar, Shane Brady. 109 mins. Cert: 15
Writer-directors Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead here offer one of the year’s foremost genre discoveries, although Spring’s exact form is revealed only belatedly: at every level, some shapeshifting is involved. The erratic trajectory of smalltown drifter Evan (Lou Taylor Pucci), absconding to Europe after a police charge, initially suggests a dread return to Hostel territory. Yet it’s a feint: the filmmakers, forever more serious than sniggering around death, instead tack onto an altogether scenic alternative route. Holing up in rural Bologna, our boy crosses paths with mysterious geneticist Louise (Nadia Hilker), and their courtly romance transforms the film entirely, each scene nudging the characters further beyond predator/prey archetypes and into almost impossibly vivacious landscapes. Long before its unusual, Lovecraft-via-Linklater third act, in which the lovers try to work a situation out rather than put a stake through it, Spring becomes genuinely regenerative: a monster movie with a heart and soul to go alongside its tentacles.
Spring is now playing in selected cinemas. A longer version of this review can be found here.