This past week we watched “Spring”, a low-budget indie film that we got as a disc from Netflix.
This movie is described variously as a “horror romance” or “romance suspense” or a “romantic mystery” (and even, in one listing, a “comedy”), so you might be forgiven for asking yourself, “Is this movie really all of those things? Is it an incoherent mess? Do I even want to see it?” The short answers are “Yes”, “No”, and “Yes”. But seeing as I’m notoriously uncritical about movies (that’s why the rating system here is “How long did it take this movie to put my wife to sleep?”), you might not want to take my word for it. Take this guy’s instead:
Now, “Spring” more or less starts right off with a young man in a room trying to care for a thin, frail, obviously extremely sick woman, so I felt compelled to mention something to my wife right off the bat:
Me: “This is not a zombie movie.”
Wife: “Are you sure? Because it looks like a zombie movie.”
Me: “I’m sure.”
Wife: “What is it, then?”
Me: “… I’m not sure.”
Because at this point the only thing I knew or remembered about the film is what was on the Netflix disc jacket, which was this:
Evan (Lou Taylor Pucci) is a young American fleeing to Europe to escape his past. While back-packing along the Italian coast, everything changes during a stop at an idyllic Italian village, where he meets and instantly connects with the enchanting and mysterious Louise. A flirtatious romance begins to bloom between the two, however, Evan soon realizes that Louise has been harboring a monstrous, primordial secret that puts both their relationship and their lives in jeopardy.
Now, in light of that description, and having read a lot of H.P. Lovecraft, I thought I had a pretty good idea of the direction this movie was going to go. In fact, I was expecting Louise not to be the only one harboring a “monstrous secret” in the little fishing village. I kept those theories to myself for a while, at least, until my wife started speculating:
Wife: “Why did they do that closeup of the spider? Oh, I bet it’s foreshadowing. The village seems nice, but they’re really drawing him into its web so they can do something to him.”
Me: “You just might be right.”
I then proceeded to explain that I thought this would be a variation on “The Shadow over Innsmouth”, which then of course meant I had to explain what that was, and we agreed that, yes, that was probably what was going on. And briefly it seemed like maybe that was going to be the story, especially after we discovered (part of) Louise’s monstrous secret, and something, uh, unfortunate happened to various small animals.
Wife: “That’s gross. I’m out. Where do you find these weird movies?”
Me: “I don’t remember where I heard of this movie or why I put it in the queue.”
Although looking it up on Netflix provides a clue, as I had previously seen and given a very good rating to “A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night“:
Anyhow, although my wife declared that she was “out” after the unfortunate incidents with the furry animals, she was not, in fact, out, and continued paying attention to the film for about an hour and twenty minutes, which is practically unheard of for a low-budget horror/romance/comedy/mystery/suspense movie. Or indeed for any movie whatsoever.
Me: “This is the best no-budget indie movie I’ve seen since ‘Ink‘.”
Wife: “Oh, ‘Ink’ was awesome!”
One reason for this is all the gorgeous Italian scenery:
Wife: “Do you think they really shot this in Italy?”
Wife: “You don’t think like the Colosseum was computer generated?”
Me: “I don’t think they could afford a computer-generated Colosseum.”
Wife: “So it would be cheaper to go to Italy than to use computer graphics?”
Me: “Oh, yeah.”
I kind of thought that might be followed up by interested inquiries into how much tickets to Italy cost, but that didn’t happen. Yet.
The other reason we enjoyed this movie so much is that the two main characters are both quite likable and, refreshingly, are not idiots. For instance, when they first meet, and Louise insists that Evan has to ditch his friends (well, quasi-friends, anyway) and go home with her right now, he, quite sensibly, is a bit, shall we say, wary.
Evan: “What are you doing?”
Louise: “Trying to have fun.”
Evan: “Are you a prostitute?”
Louise: “You want me to be?”
Evan: “Are you gonna rob me?”
Louise: “No, you look poor.”
Evan: “Well, I’m not gonna carry drugs up my ass for you or your boss. Go out with me tomorrow night.”
Evan: “‘Cause you’re a hooker.”
Louise: “Because I don’t date.”
And, a little while later:
Evan: “I think you’re the most attractive person I’ve ever seen. But that doesn’t outweigh that you might be a mental patient and I gotta make sure you’re the kind of crazy I can deal with.”
So needless to say, there’s no date for Evan and Louise that night. They do, of course, go out on a date later. But before we get to that, River Song would like to issue a little warning:
I don’t usually truck with spoilers in “Not A Review Of …” posts, but in this case the thing my wife said that cracked me up with didn’t occur until after we knew exactly what was going on. I had to include it, of course, and if I just put it in here without explanation, it would sound sound like she might be the mental patient. So before we get to that, I’m going to give you lots of time to go away and read something else.
Are you still reading?
Are you sure you want to?
Because you might want to watch the movie first.
Still here? Okay. So at about the midway point of the movie, I was convinced that I was on the right track with my Lovecraftian assumptions, so I was pleasantly surprised when the film veered off in a completely different direction. Louise does have ulterior motives, but not the ones we were expecting, which were something like this:
Wife: “Is she going to kill him and eat him?”
A meal is not what Louise is after; rather, Louise is immortal, but every twenty years she begins to suffer from spontaneous involuntary reversions to a “previous evolutionary state”. She can hold these reversions off temporarily with injections, but needs something from Evan to reset the cycle and keep them in remission for another twenty years; Evan, of course, has other ideas, hoping to convince Louise to try to break the twenty-year cycle. She thinks she knows how to do it, but doesn’t really seem to want to.
Wife: “So if she does what he says, she’ll become mortal and they can stay together?”
Wife: “But will she keep turning into a lizard or a squid or whatever?”
So obviously Louise and Evan have some pretty major issues to work out there. What do they decide? Does Louise try to become mortal? Does she turn into a lizard and eat Evan? WE DON’T KNOW YET! Because at the crucial last ten minutes of the movie the disc started skipping and wouldn’t finish playing. I cleaned it several times, cleaned the player, to no avail. My wife was about ready to throw her shoe at the television. So, back it went to Netflix. (At my wife’s suggestion, I called Netflix to complain, and they were very sympathetic, as we’ve received a number of discs that have had problems lately. They even sent me the next available disc in my queue in advance of when I would have normally gotten it. Which was quite nice of them, but which, unfortunately, distrupted my carefully laid plan to get “Darkest Hour”, “Dunkirk”, and “Their Finest” one after the other, so as to watch the “Unofficial 2017 World War II Trilogy” in the most logical order based on subject matter. Oh well. #firstworldproblems)
But I digress. Anyway, as we haven’t seen the very end of the movie, it’s still possible that they will do something to screw it up and make us hate them; but they’ve done just about everything else right so far, so there’s no reason to think they can’t make it to the end without turning their little gem of a movie into a lizard. Or a squid. Or, you know, whatever.