Love, Mutants, and Horror

Spring (2014), by Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead follows the story of Evan, an American man, after his mom passed away and he decided to take a trip to Italy to deal with his grief.  During this trip, he meets and falls in love with Louise, a genetics student hiding a dark secret. Even with just that short description of the movie, it is difficult to see how it could fit into a horror class. Watching the movie after however, does not change this notion. This is what made it hard for me to completely appreciate the film but it is also what made the film so interesting. In my own opinion, I have to say that I did not like Spring as a horror movie. However, I felt like it did very well as a romcom and to a certain extent, as a sci-fi flick. That being said, the movie can be seen as a mish-mash of different genres which in a very strange way, works well.

In Mark Jancovich’s article, Genre and the Audience: Genre Classifications and Cultural Distinctions in the Mediation of the Silence of the Lambs, he says that genres of films as dynamic and changing. They are produced by the discourses of the audience or of the film’s consumers and this is how the genre is somehow defined. Genre then is what we collectively believe it to be. This is what makes Spring very interesting in terms of genre study. Looking at the progression of the film, we see how it can be mainly classified as horror, science fiction, and romance. Furthermore, the film also contributes to breaking the female-victim stereotype in mainstream horror cinema. This is especially since, the monster in this film is a woman and generally, she is the one in control and is the more powerful and dominant entity. The film however, does not treat the woman monster as an antagonist and instead gives her a story which makes her a character one can empathize and identify with.

In the beginning of the film, the genre is not completely clear. This part simply sets up the character and motivations of Evan so as to better understand where he is coming from when he goes through different experiences in the movie. This changes however, when he meets two Italian friends who take him for a trip to a small town along the Italian coast. It is here that we begin to feel the genre shift to romance, especially since this is when Evan first sets his eyes on Louise. Because of her, he decides to stay in town and actually finds a job. This all leads to Evan and Louise having sex, during which Louise prevents him from using a condom. This is when the horror portion of the film comes in. After waking up next to Evan, we see how Louise looks a bit different. At first, it seemed like she was a vampire until she starts shedding. At this point, the horror sets in mainly because we do not know what Louise is. This continues on until she actually ends up killing a tourist who tries to ask her for sex. After a while however, Louise breaks up with Evan and suddenly, the film shifts to a sort of sci-fi tone. This happens because Louise finally explains what she is. She explains it in such a way that makes it seem like she is not supernatural but is a product of some sort of natural genetic mutation, as she is around 2,000 years old and needs to get pregnant in order to recreate herself and stay immortal. Once learning about this and accepting it, Evan decides to try to make Louise fall in love with him which, according to Louise, would end her immortality and cause her to become human again. She does and in the end, the film ends on a romantic note.

With all that happening then, I found it very hard to identify what the film was. In the end though, I don’t feel like this is important. Spring at its core is a romantic film but, its actual genre really does depend on how the audience perceives it. As I said before, I did not appreciate this film as horror as quite simply, in my own perception, horror movies are made to be frightening and, this film did not scare me at all. Looking at it as a romantic flick or sci-fi however, I actually did very much like the film. I felt like it put a very interesting twist on a genre which is as old as time.


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)


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