Falling in love is a difficult thing to quantify. It’s almost impossible to explain it to someone who’s never had the experience. It’s the ultimate “You had to be there” kind of anecdote. Love? What does it even mean? How can you tell the difference between love and infatuation, as there is often a thin line between the two. It wasn’t until a few years ago when I had my first legitimate experience with the notion we call love, and now that I’m on the other side of that experience, as I married that person, I can say, without a shadow of a doubt, that every relationship, every tryst, and every affair up to that point was,at best, infatuation. The old adage: “When you meet the one, you just know,” for the first time became a reality for me. I wasn’t looking for it, and didn’t know what it meant, honestly.
It’s a “whirlwind” type of experience that gets to the very core of your person. The desire to be around the person goes beyond “want,” and soon becomes a deep “need.” Like, you can physically feel it, and it becomes almost painful to be apart. The heart yearns in the same way that the body yearns for sustenance, would be an apt way to put, and you sacrifice a lot just to be in that persons presence. Friendships fall to the wayside, you stay up late into the night talking to them, the need to go to work and make a living feels “optional.” You don’t want anything to get in the way. It’s almost as if somewhere deep in your subconscious you know it might not last forever; Creating an immediacy and sense of panic. Especially if it’s something you unwittingly stumble across, and are only in the situation because of dumb luck and happenstance. It feels important, and “sacred,” like they tell you you should feel when at church.
The writer/directors(Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead) of the new film Spring, have essentially crafted a story that goes into these topics. Now, this isn’t exactly “new” territory, I suppose, but what makes it unique is that it’s wrapped in an unconventional package. It could be broadly described as a “horror” flick, and while the movie treads in some of that genre’s territory, it really doesn’t paint an accurate picture. Although, that categorization is what makes the movie work on a fundamental level. It needs to be viewed that way, because if it was to be viewed in a more “honest” light, the filmmakers wouldn’t be able to subvert the audiences expectations in the way they need to.
Spring is another one of these slow-burn horror movies. You spend most of the running time watching two people falling in love, discussing their pasts, expounding upon the nature of relationships, taking walks around a beautiful little Italian village. It’s only every once in awhile that the film reminds you that there is something potentially sinister going on. It’s a smart move on the part of the creators, because, due to the genre label, you’re predisposed to want those reveals; Those little moments that setup what’s to come, or, more accurately, what you want to come.
It’s a tricky balance to find, especially since it’s played pretty close to the chest for most of it’s run time, but it paces itself in such a way that you’re always finding out something new. Sometimes the reveals are small and intimate, other times they are, well, more substantial. It has a fluid, yet kind of episodic flow to it. Every time the two main characters meet up feels self contained, and have the scenes have their own mini-arcs, of sorts. They have some dinner, or take a walk while chit chatting and getting to know one another, but it always feels like it’s building towards something. This movie is all about the small things about falling for someone, and how the closer you get to a person the more you’re willing to accept, or potentially reject, about a person.
“Honesty” is the great litmus test for relationships, romantic or otherwise. To be truly an “open book” is a terrifying concept, because it implies an accurate picture of who you really are, and facing rejection in this space can be devastating. A lot of the time when we meet people we take on characteristics based on how we would like to be perceived, not necessarily who we are. I’m not saying there is anything inherently wrong with this, in fact, it’s one of the most natural things that humans do, as it isn’t usually a conscience decision. Well, at first, anyways.
There always comes a point in any relationship when “the buck stops,” if you will. Spend enough time a person, and, whether intended or not, one’s true self emerges into focus. The cool thing that Spring does in this respect, is that it takes this idea and turns it into a literal disposition. The female lead is more than she seems, and the more time both the the audience and male lead spend with her, the more about her true nature is revealed. It takes some interesting twists and turns, but it eventually comes to a head; It’s way more understated than you’d expect. It’s grand allegory done in a small and smart way. Once things start to become clearer, the movie ramps up pretty quickly, and the slower pacing up to that point starts to make more sense.
We spend a lot of the movie’s running time just simply getting to know the two leads, and, once we near the end, you realize how important that time was. There’s some pretty big “choices” the characters have to make, and if we didn’t know them it wouldn’t matter. They feel like recognizable people, they are easy to identify with, so, putting yourself in their shoes never feels like all that much of a stretch. Which, given the circumstances, is important.
It’s really hard to talk about this flick without ruining it. Yeah, the trailer definitely gives some of the flick’s secrets away, but it doesn’t really get at the good stuff. I’ll say this: The movie is much more than it seems, and it’s sum is greater than it’s parts. Even if you’re feeling “bored” at the beginning, stick with it. It’s a really rewarding experience. Well, I think so. I’m right sometimes. So there.
To give you a better idea of where the makers of Spring are coming from, I would suggest checking out their first film, Resolution(Trailer, Netflix). It’s a really great genre bending, meta-horror flick, that treads in the same type of subversive concepts. It made me excited about where these filmmakers would go, and was the reason that Spring was a must watch for me. I wait with baited breath for their next project!