Tragic but almost romantic, Spring (2014) is another “horror film” which blurs the lines among movie genres. Personally, this was one my favorite films that was shown in class. For me, it was just the right mix of romance, drama, horror, science, history, and even art. Its pace was not too fast nor too slow, even if there were already sprinkles of peculiarity here and there.
As a horror film, what makes Spring unique is the humanity of its monster. The character of Louise, the mutant, is almost reminiscent of the character Mystique in the X-Men movies, although Louise appears to be much more ancient. Unlike the “monster” in the Autopsy of Jane Doe (2016), Louise is a monster, an ‘other’, who shows her vulnerability to the male. Interestingly enough, her redemption also lies within the male. Louise needed to fall in love with Evan so that her body can produce oxytocin, which will then render her as mortal.
Unlike in the Evil Dead (2013), the monster in Spring is not genderless. She appears to be completely female, even needing to get impregnated so that she is able to take on a new appearance and a new life. Furthermore, Louise is resistant to the monster residing inside of her. In this sense, her agency as a character is strong. One can view her as the anti-thesis to the monster in the Evil Dead—resistant and sympathetic.
However, despite the strong agency displayed by Louise, the ‘othering’ of the female is still very much present in the film. Because of heterochromia (her eyes have different colors), Louise became the subject of plenty of studies and even artworks. This shows a certain kind of exoticism and ‘othering’, not just of the monster but also of the woman. Louise lived through most of history, even dating back to Pompeii where she was originally from. There was a scene in which she recounts different details of the Thus, one can see her as a living embodiment of the oppression that women had to go through, hand in hand with the development of the concept of gender equality. There is still a continuous resistance to the monster that society makes women out to be.
According to an article by Jancovich (2002) entitled, “Genre and the audience: Genre classifications and cultural distinctions in the mediation of the Silence of the Lambs”, a strategic manner of reviewing a certain film is to “present the pleasures associated with the horror movies – that it will be gripping, terrifying, shocking, etc. – while also legitimating the film through its distinction from the [horror] genre” (p. 156). This is done by looking at the aesthetic quality of a film and also by looking at its politics, which is generally feminist. Spring still contains the so-called ‘main pleasures’ of a horror movie, but what makes it enticing to watch is the unique delivery of these sensations. The violent transformations of the bellisimo Louise into a savage monster and the mysterious deaths showing the audience what she is capable of provide us with the usual feelings that we get from horror films. However, unlike monsters in other horror films, Louise is capable of making the audience feel sympathetic towards her. There is a certain detachment that can be found in her identity as a ‘monster’ because she also sees it from a scientific perspective. Once again, her agency is shown through her intellect. She is able to find a way to beat the monster within.
Evan is an unexpected young American male character. Rather than taking Louise directly to bed (which was what she wanted), he was able to score a date with her. Eventually, he discovered that she was a monster, and instead of ‘othering’ her even more, he tried to understand where she came from. Evan’s character strikes a resemblance to the character of Austin in the Autopsy of Jane Doe (2016). Austin tried to understand where the Jane Doe came from, uncovering things he wasn’t supposed to know along the way. This led not just to his own demise, but to the deaths of his girlfriend and his father as well. These kinds of male characters are necessary foils to the usual male chauvinists found in horror films, and they complement the agency of the ‘female monster’ well.
All in all, Spring was a well-made, feel-good horror film. It gave the audience a new perspective when it comes to the ‘female monster.’ If you’re one to think that horror movies cannot have blissful and lovely happy endings, this film is highly recommended for you.
Source: Janovich, M. (2002). Horror, The Film Reader. London: Routledge.