Warning: This entry contains spoilers.
After losing his mother and getting into a bar fight, Evan (Lou Taylor Pucci) decides to fly to Europe on a whim to get away from all his troubles. In Italy, he meets new friends, starts working on a farm, and meets a local woman (Nadia Hilker) who he becomes attracted to very quickly. Their relationship turns bumpy when he discovers that there is much more than meets the eye when it comes to her.
Justin Benson and Aaron Scott Moorhead’s 2014 film, Spring, was vastly different compared to the rest of the horror films that we’ve seen in our COM 115.9 class. Right from the get-go, we get a glimpse of the life of the “monster,” and the answer to the mystery of what the monster is was unraveled very quickly. The suspense or thrill that is usually embedded in the horror genre wasn’t stretched out this time around. Viewers were invited to explicitly see Louise, or the monster’s, transformations, and the ordeals that she goes through to keep her from changing into her terrifying inhuman form.
Because of the context – Spring being introduced to us in a horror film class setting – viewers naturally brought in their own assumptions that horror elements were to be expected while watching the film. However, upon consumption, aside from horror, the movie can also be seen to have romantic-comedy and science fiction elements. Some people found the movie scary, while some thought it was a sweet love story. Mark Jancovich states that “genre definitions are produced […] by the ways in which films are understood by those who produce, mediate and consume them.”1 This proves that it is difficult to classify movies absolutely since genre definitions are subjective and are based on each individual viewer’s interpretation.
Placing both the romantic-comedy and horror genre together may be deemed as unthinkable, but when I started thinking about it, I realized that this mix of genres isn’t as uncommon as it seems. Right off the bat, there’s Warm Bodies and Zombieland. In Joan Hawkins’ article, she mentions the term “paracinema” and how its catalogue “include[s] entries from […] seemingly disparate genres.”2 Spring is a perfect example of this. This movie doesn’t fall under one specific classification of a movie genre, rather it can be seen as a part of many different genres.
It was horror because there was an unknown entity – a monster, if you will – as there is in all movies fitting the genre; it was partly sci-fi because of the explanation of how Louise’s monstrous form came to be through genetics, and how she manages to maintain her immortality; and it was a romantic-comedy because of Evan and Louise’s sweet relationship, filled with witty banter.
By following this manner, it can be said that Spring worked in a way that tried to satisfy both horror fans who expect to derive the usual pleasures seen in a typical horror film, and audience members who see themselves as different from the usual “horror fan.”3 On account of this, this film can be said to be classified as high-art through its “pacing, the blatant disregard for the cause-effect logic of classical Hollywood cinema, the strategic use of discontinuous editing, [and] the painterly composition of certain scenes.”4
This film is a testament of how genres aren’t necessarily rigid structures that disallow fraternization. Spring managed to mix various seemingly different genres together and did it well. All in all, the horror genre is subjective. What may scare one viewer, may not be seen as scary at all for a different viewer.
This was the only horror movie that we watched in class which had an ending that left me with a happy lighthearted feeling. And it was a feeling that I welcomed greatly. I guess it’s fair to say that I didn’t see Spring as part of the horror genre, even though it did include a monster and is ultimately classified as one. I saw it as more of a romance film, and what appealed to me the most throughout the film was seeing Evan and Louise’s relationship grow. The progression of their relationship was much like When Harry Met Sally, where we got to follow the characters around on their dates, and listen to their conversations full of flirting, wit, humor, and plain honesty. The couple went from having a one-night stand to forming a real relationship that managed to overpower the monster. We get a snippet of how Evan and Louise’s relationship is in true form, and we see how convincing their romance is and how easy it was for the both of them to fall in love with each other. Overall, Spring was a heartwarming horror film that I enjoyed immensely.
1 Mark Jancovich, “Genre and the Audience: Genre Classifications and Cultural Distinctions in the Mediation of The Silence of the Lambs.” Horror, The Film Reader (Routledge, 2002), 151-152.
2 Joan Hawkins, “Sleaze Mania, Euro-trash, and High Art: The Place of European Art Films in American Low Culture.” Horror, The Film Reader (Routledge, 2002), 125.
3 Mark Jancovich, “Genre and the Audience: Genre Classifications and Cultural Distinctions in the Mediation of The Silence of the Lambs.” Horror, The Film Reader (Routledge, 2002), 159.
4 Joan Hawkins, “Sleaze Mania, Euro-trash, and High Art: The Place of European Art Films in American Low Culture.” Horror, The Film Reader (Routledge, 2002), 129.