Half an hour into Spring (2014), I thought to myself, “Is this really a horror film?” The only other time I had this feeling during a movie in this class was Triangle, as it felt more like a thriller than it was a horror. This is a totally different case, though, as at least the aforementioned Triangle’s elicited at least some cheap scares. The film’s its steady, controlled build-up coupled with Evan’s (Lou Taylor-Pucci) flirtatious character made it seem more like a romance-comedy than it was a horror film. Once he first introduced himself and started going out with Louise (Nadia Hilker), his love interest, it further distanced itself from hack-and-slash horrors such as Evil Dead or even thought-provoking ones such as Pontypool. As I kept going, it turned into spinoff of Richard Linklater’s Before Sunrise trilogy, with its European setting and artistic shots of the scenery. There had to be a reason this was a horror film, right? That was when things got a bit weird, to say the least.
From this point on, the horror switch got flicked from “off” to “on” as Louise was revealed to be some demi-something. I’m one hundred percent serious about the word “something” because it’s impossible to describe exactly what she is. At one point she was a werewolf, at another point she was a demon, and during the most unforgettable scene in the film, she was an octopus-woman. But of course, the audience was never at loss for elements of romance, as Evan loved her through her condition. This made for a really weird and odd love story about a normal, regular man falling in love with an immortal something. So I guess this movie can be classified as equal parts sci-fi, horror, and romance, is that right?
Among horror enthusiasts, this is a talking point according to Mark Jancovich’s essay entitled, “Genre and the Audience,” as when films are classified under the “horror” genre, some consider them to be the genre it identifies with the most. Moreover, the same demographic has been at a standstill regarding horror films that are gory and bloody (such as Evil Dead), and those that operate under the pretense of “atmosphere” and “suggestion” (such as Spring). Personally, I feel the same way about this film, as it’s hard to see where it truly belongs as a film and how should be classified. As mentioned earlier, it’s equal blend of the three genres makes it hard for me to call it a horror film. In that case, why not just call it a sci-fi movie instead of a horror film?
But, as mentioned by Jancovich, “Genres cannot, therefore, simply be defined by the expectations of ‘the audience’, because the audience is not a coherent body with a consistent set of expectations.” What this means is that it just is not up to us to determine whether a film is in the realm of the horror or not. At the end of the day, that depends on those who produce and market the movie. Upon looking back at the poster of the film, and with the way it is marketed, I would one hundred percent believe that the film is going to scare me. Let’s say one day I just decide to go to the theatre and see any movie that interests me. If I see this poster, and decide that it’s worth a watch, I expect to be scared since not only does it say that it’s a horror film, but that the main subject of the poster shows a mutated lady-monster.
An example that is mentioned in the essay of Jancovich is the movie The Silence of the Lambs. There has been a debate whether the film has been a thriller or a horror film, but at the end of the day, it is not the audience that decides what category it is in. Although media, through reviews and different analyses, influences public opinion further as to what it truly is, at the end of the day, all they do is “…present the film as offering the pleasures associated with the horror movie…” What just happens is that different groups of people who watch horror films with more than one attached genre either try to bring themselves closer, or distance themselves away from the genre of horror. But, they will always, truly, still be in the realm of horror.
At the end of the day, horror or not, no matter what you believe in, Spring was a really weird, yet outstanding film. It was a twisted love story that provoked thought on what it truly means to be in love with someone. It just so happens that the movie’s touching message was overshadowed by its weird something-monster.
Janovich, M. (2002). Horror, The Film Reader. London: Routledge.