Schools in the United States of America have an event called “spring break”. From the name itself it is a break for students to relax, party, and unwind after a stressful school year. This is usually when students have a fling and sometimes try to find out who they are or what they want to do in life. This is what the film Spring tries to do if it were a person. Spring (2014) is a film directed by Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead. The category of this movie is what we are going to discuss for this entry. The main character Evan (played by Lou Taylor Pucci) similarly goes on a “spring break” in Italy.
For a film to fall in the horror genre, the audience and critics assume that it should be scary, there should be jump scares, and there’s a monster that is either supernatural or a criminal that kills people. If it is classified as horror and it does not scare you, usually the viewer gets disappointed and think that it is a bad horror film. Before I took the course COM 115.9 Film Seminar: The Horror Film, I actually thought like that. This sort of mentality has changed over time especially after reading Mark Jancovich’s article, Genre and the Audience: Genre Classifications and cultural distinctions in the mediation of “The Silence of the Lambs”.
The film, Spring, actually has three (3) categories: horror, sci-fi, and romance. Horror because it banks on your fear of the unknown. At first, the audience will think that it is not horror because it is about a guy that escapes from his crumbling life in his hometown to another country where he can begin his life anew. Soon after he finds a new job, meets a beautiful and mysterious girl, and starts a relationship with her. So, what is so horrible with that? It is more like a romance than horror. The viewers then see this girl, Louise, do some mysterious and creepy things like kill her 2 bunnies and write strange symbols on the wall of the cave, parts of her skin start to have unusual bruises, and she injects herself with a syringe with mysterious contents. The first half of the movie suspends information on who or what Louise is and this is where the horror genre comes in. It banks on the fear of the unknown and the actions Louise undertakes to keep herself alive and to keep her secret from everyone else. The sci-fi genre (also horror) comes in when she explains the monstrosity of her form. She explains that every 20 years in Spring she gets herself pregnant and she uses the cells of the embryo to transform or recreate herself to become immortal, however, this process entails her to change into different creatures. The romance portion comes as soon as Evan, the main protagonist, lands in Italy and meets Louise. She also states that she will not allow herself to fall in love with someone because her brain will produce oxytocin that will hinder the process and ultimately lose her immortality. As a romantic movie, of course, this is what happens in the end.
Some criticism for the movie is that it has too many genres and sometimes it cannot decide if it should be a sci-fi movie, or a romance movie, or a horror movie. It does not even scare people so should it be called a ‘horror’ movie? The article explains that the blurred boundaries of horror is what makes horror, horror. The genre does not mean that it only needs one thing to do, to scare the audience because horror can be done creatively, not just cheap jump scares. The horror film has evolved to engage the audience in another way such as storytelling like The Innkeepers (2011), or using the audiences’ imagination like Pontypool (2008).
Aside from the genre issue, the article also influences the readers to compare movies they have watched with the horror classic The Silence of the Lambs (1991). The main ‘horror’ portion of both movies is the fear of the unknown despite not being supernatural, with the 1991 movie the unknown is a killer who de-skins his victims’ backs and later on, the iconic cannibal Hannibal Lecter. Aside from this, once the movie reveals the unknown, the feeling of horror subsides and this is where the audience can now make of what has happened and sees the different sides/categories of the film.
To conclude, Spring Break is a time for students to have fun, and to figure things out. Maybe even find love, just like how Evan found Louise in a dark time in his life, and the immortal Louise gave up her immortality for love which at first she vowed never to do. Spring‘s Spring Break turned out it does not have to be one thing to be something because all of those categories/genres make Spring, Spring.