A beautiful Italian coastal town. A beautiful and mysterious woman. A kind of average guy. The scene is set for romance, and some horror.
Evan is grieving following the recent loss of his mother. After a violent incident leads him to realise that his hometown holds nothing but trouble and misery for him, he decides to go travelling, someone suggests Italy and he just goes for it. Whilst staying at a hostel he meets what I can only describe as two aggressively English men. They serve little purpose, other than some slight humour, than to take Evan on a road trip to the town where the rest of the plot unfolds. Why he wasn’t just written to already be in that town is beyond me.
The guys fuck off to Amsterdam, offering to take Evan with them, but he refuses, as he has been enraptured by the lovely Louise. She’s a gorgeous local, flirtatious yet blunt, and though she seems up for sex, rejects the idea of a date as a ridiculous notion. This won’t stop our man though. He pursues her through the streets, using his, I guess you could call it charm, personally I found him distinctly bland, until she relents and agrees to a date.
It goes well, and the pair end up having unprotected sex, her choice, not his…suspicious. In the morning Louise has a patch of rotted skin on her body, her face is monstrous, and she sneaks out, staggering in an unhuman like fashion.
From here the film tries to throw you off of exactly what Louise is. Sometimes her skin sizzles in sunlight, so vampire? No, wait, there’s a fangy, furry transformation scene next, so werewolf? Then there is a sacrificial ceremony, witch? Nope, that doesn’t seem to be it either, because later she’s black and scaly, so that would make her a…I don’t even know what. What we can be certain of though is that these transformations are out of her control, painful and distressing. Louise injects herself regularly throughout the film with a serum to keep the metamorphosis at bay, being a scientific scholar of genetics, perhaps she’s suffering the side effects of self experimentation?
The explanation is actually incredibly convoluted, and the delivery of that explanation is so low key and rushed it ends up being quite unsatisfying. Evan finds Louise squirming on the floor in the midst of mutating into a grotesque squid creature, after administering the serum, returning her to normal, she informs him that she is over 2000 years old, yet human, born with a hereditary genetic disorder that causes her to regenerate. There’s more but it would probably take another thousand words to even come close to fully describing what’s going on here. The main problem though is how utterly unfreaked Evan seems by it all. Yeah, sure he storms off and looks a bit confused, but he’s just seen a squid woman, I feel that his reaction wasn’t strong enough.
The film was intriguing enough to hold my attention, the female lead plays her part well, but the male lead lacks charisma, and there is little chemistry between the couple. Considering how charmed the 2000 year old woman is supposed to be by him, it’s quite a flaw. Whilst there is some decent body horror, the horror elements themselves seem downplayed, and the film tends to focus more on the romantic plot. Not necessarily a bad thing, but I want more horror in my horror! The spattering of humour throughout won’t have you roaring with laughter, but it did give a welcome natural feel to an otherwise fantastical story. There was also a bit of a missed opportunity regarding a subplot. An elderly farmer often refers to his wife, who died young, and there is a vague hint that our ever mutating lady could have been one and the same, but unfortunately it’s never fully explored.
Spring is essentially a monster movie, and not a terrible one, however if you are looking for scares this is not where you will find them. Enjoyable in parts, confusing in others, this film is trying to take a familiar narrative and give it a unique spin, for which I am thankful, but it just doesn’t quite pull it off. I didn’t think it was bad, but I thought I was going to watch a horror film with a hint of a love story, but instead I got a romance with a hint of horror.