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article imageTIFF: Romantic-horror Spring thrills in all the right places Special

By David Silverberg     Sep 8, 2014 in Entertainment
Few films have the courage to attempt to blend romance with horror. But Spring, debuting at the Toronto International Film Festival, mixes both genres splendidly in a tale that is both chilling and tender.
The premise begins simple enough: Evan (Lou Taylor Pucci) is stuck in the mire of a dead-end life, where he works as a bar cook and now has no family due to his mother's cancerous death. He decides to fly to Italy on a whim, meeting up with rowdy Brits to get drunk and hit on flirtatious women. It's not a lot, but this is something to Evan; it's an adventurous life, a far cry from the mundane routine he went through back in the U.S.
When he visit a picturesque southern town he meets the stunning Louise (German actress Nadia Hilker) and begins to pursue her for something more than just a one-night stand. They eventually date but Evan soon discovers a dark secret lying under the surface of her grace and beauty.
Without giving too much away, a horror film begins to seep out from under this romantic story, and it never feels jarring or overblown. Terror feels like a natural turn in Spring, as if Evan's experience could be anyone's challenge when what we see is not what we get.
For all the violence dotting this film like blood splatter, Spring never waivers from its true intention: showing how love can overwhelm even the most jaded cynic. Maybe we call can't relate to Evan's outlook, but there is a lot to learn from Louise. If you've ever had a secret you weren't ready to trust to a new lover, Spring's story will resonate with you loudly.
Directors Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead capture the quiet ugliness in this relationship, but it never feels exploitive. They do a masterful job at bringing a Hostel-like story out of the gutters of the horrific and into the realistic, all the while framing gorgeous shots of the Italian countryside. Spring should definitely win an award, somewhere, for its cinematography.
Spring's ending will last with you long after the credits roll, which is always an encouraging sign of important filmmaking. I look forward to seeing where Benson and Moorhead go with their next film.
For other reviews of TIFF films, go here.
More about Toronto film festival, Tiff, Film, Movie, Toronto
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