The horror genre does not have a definite definition according to Mark Jancovich in his article, “Genre and the Audience: Genre Classifications and Cultural Distinctions in the Mediation of The Silence of the Lambs”. The definition of horror, or genres in general, changes from time to time and changes throughout different contexts as well. He mentions that it is up to those who watch the films to determine what the genre of the film is, based on their thoughts, context, etc. Thus, what builds a definition of a genre are the viewers. Genres and their descriptions do not stay carved on stone but, it develops and changes.
With an unusual mix of three genres in one film, the movie Spring shows how “love is a monster” both figuratively and literally and how three genres that are unlikely to be put together can work. Spring is a film released in 2014 and January 2015 in the United States. It was directed by both Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead. As mentioned, it is a combination of three genres namely: horror, science fiction, and romance. The two main characters, Louise and Evan, were played by Nadia Hilker and Lou Taylor Pucci, respectively.
The three different genres were shown throughout different plot points of the film’s storyline. All three, though quite jumpy from drama to horror to romance to sci-fi, etc. and having a combination that is not often seen, were evident and obvious in the film. Horror was illustrated in the way that Louise’s identity was hard to determine. Hence, there was a fear of the unknown because of the lack of confirmation about what creature Louise was in the film. There were signs of her as a vampire or part of a cult because of her rituals. There was also horror in Louise herself as the Monster of the film. In addition, there were scenes that were also gory that enhanced how she is the Monster of the film. Sci-fi, on the other hand, was shown when Louise started explaining why her identity is like that, why she is immortal, or why she transforms into a mix of different creatures, etc. She explains that it is because of genetics and chemicals or hormones such as oxytocin in her body. She explains that her mother had passed it on to her. Lastly, romance was largely part of the film because a lot of the scenes developed Evan and Louise’s relationship. Evan starts to fall in love with Louise throughout the film and in the end, Louise also falls in love with him making her a mortal and stopping her transformations thus, removing the Monster of the film. Despite the unusual mix between the three, the romance aspect of the film enhanced the horror aspect of it and vice versa. The combinations gave the movie its substance.
The genre is hard to define. There is that struggle in defining it which leads to the aforementioned lack of the genre’s definite definition. Bouncing off from this struggle to define the genre, in Jancovich’s article it was also mentioned that reviews and features set what it is the viewers ought to focus on or that it also depends on the viewers to form the genre of a certain film. He mentioned, as said earlier, that culture changes over time and this context affects how viewers and critics view films and their genres. The film Spring then gives viewers the freedom to interpret the film on their own and to determine what genre they think it is given that it does have all three.
With that, certain ideologies can be seen throughout the film. One is feminism and another is paracinema. Feminism is seen in Spring through looking at how the root of Evan and Louise’s relationship was, in fact, because of a need for survival. Louise was using Evan for her own gain and to stay immortal. She even says, “I won’t give up my immortality for someone I met just a week ago”, showing that she had no emotional attachment to Evan at the time. There were also scenes of emasculation throughout the film. One example is how Louise, after transforming in the Monster, eats the penis of the American tourist who tried to rape her. Obviously, the gender roles were flipped in the film despite having the woman as the Monster. Though, in the end, Louise’s immortality is lost because of her love for Evan. Paracinema, on the other hand, is an idealogy applicable because the film itself strays away from mainstream cinema having a combination of all three genres, horror, sci-fi, and romance. The film did not just focus on one though is still considered a legitimate film.
Source: 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).