Movie review: "Spring" straddles romance and horror to great effect

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

It’s not often a movie will cross genres as completely as “Spring” — starting off in one, and ending somewhere unexpected — and it’s even less often it works.

I will definitely say “Spring” works — at least for someone like this critic who is biting on both sides of the genres they play with.

(I’m trying to preserve the surprises here, so please bear with the vagueness.)

Evan (Lou Taylor Pucci) has just dealt with the death of his mother when a bar fight also ends his employment. Like adrift young American men before him, he looks to a trip to Europe to “get centered.”

He chooses a random destination based on a random recommendation (“White people love Italy.”). He arrives and begins to do the standard routine of hostel- and bar-hopping.

Then, as young American men in movies written by young American men are want to do, he meets a mysterious European beauty, this one named Louise (Nadia Hilker). They begin the sort of romance we’ve seen before … which then becomes like something we’ve not seen before.

The writing-directing team of Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead are kind of like experimental chefs working in fusion cuisine here. The flavors they’re working with — a kind-of romance that morphs into a kind-of horror — aren’t necessarily ones that naturally complement each other.

But what “Spring” has going for it is that this doesn’t feel like a gimmick. Both sides of this are attacked with such earnestness, and there’s a sweetness as things unfold that holds the whole thing together.

The love story between Evan and Louise plays out on the cobblestoned streets of an impossibly romantic town on the Italian coast. The strolling-and-chatting nature evokes more than a little “Before Sunrise” — a good thing, if you ask me.

Even when “Spring” becomes a very different movie, the romantic underpinnings hold things together.

To beat that fusion-cuisine metaphor to death, not everyone is going to like the way these flavors combine, but if it hits your sweet spot like it does mine, it combines two familiar things in wildly original ways. This is my Weird Date Night pick of the week.

"Spring"

Opens Friday at the Gateway Film Center

3 1/2 stars out of 4