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Sleeper of the Week: ‘Spring’

Sleeper of the Week: 'Spring'

Sleeper of the Week takes a film that only
few critics have seen and shines some light on it.

Dir: Justin Benson/Aaron Scott Moorhead
Criticwire Average: A-

This week sees the wide release of the indie horror film “It Follows,” but while that film seems primed for breakout hit status, another small monster movie sleeper seeks attention on VOD and in limited release. “Spring” follows Evan (Lou Taylor Pucci) as he travels from America to Italy after the death of his mother. There, he meets an enigmatic, beautiful woman who invites him to bed but denies his request for a date first. The two start a romance as he learns that she’s not all that she seems to be.

Saying more would spoil the surprise, which co-directors Justin Benson and Aaron Scott Moorhead take their time to arrive at. Up until that point, it plays a bit like a Richard Linklater slice-of-life with a hint of doom accompanying the travelogue romance. Even as the film’s dread becomes literal, it doesn’t break its agreeably unhurried rhythms, and it’s as much about real-life relationship fears as it is about the supernatural.

More thoughts from the Criticwire Network:

Joe Bendel, Libertas Film Magazine

“Spring” is a terrific film precisely because it takes its time and trusts the audience’s maturity and discernment. It takes a road not often taken in genre cinema, reaping distinctive results. Read more.

Matt Donato, We Got This Covered

Spring” is both a whimsical love story and intensified creature feature, standing as one of the most artful interpretations of eternal romance achieved since, well, never. Read more.

More thoughts from the web:

A.A. Dowd, The A.V. Club

“Spring” never abandons this leisurely pace, even after hints of the supernatural — flowers blooming in fast forward, mangled animal carcasses — begin to appear along its cobblestone path. Throughout, Moorhead and Benson undercut their breezy holiday romance with a vague sense of foreboding, most clearly invoked during topsy-turvy aerial shots of the scenery. They also eventually indulge in some impressive, presumably budget-conscious special effects, delivering the slimy goods at odd intervals. But unlike, say, one of Eli Roth’s vacations-gone-wrong, “Spring” doesn’t treat the sightseeing bits as prelude to total carnage. Horror invades the proceedings, but it doesn’t hijack them. The film continues to zig where others might zag. Read more.

Joe Leydon, Variety

If Richard Linklater attempted a remake of Val Lewton’s “Cat People,” the end result might resemble “Spring,” an intriguing oddity about an attractive couple who meet in a scenic European locale and quickly chat their way into a close bond, but find their ties tested by the young woman’s propensity for periodically moonlighting as something fantastical. Co-directors Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead (“Resolution,” “V/H/S: Viral”), working from a script credited to Benson, do a clever job of entwining elements of budding romance, mounting dread and indolent vacation in their leisurely paced, handsomely produced indie feature. Read more.

Alan Scherstuhl, The Village Voice

The last half-hour is winsome and lovely despite following a grandly Cthulhoid body-horror set piece; Moorhead served as cinematographer in addition to co-director, and his Italian nightscapes and sunrises are captured with matter-of-fact beauty — he shoots it like you’d see it if you were there, not in that magic-hour, light-gilded manner of most films of Americans in love abroad. Read more.

Scott Tobias, The Dissolve

The horror here is just a means to heighten the emotions and work the stress points of a romance where natural fears — of women on Evan’s side, of commitment on Louise’s — are rendered supernatural. When it comes, the explanation for what’s actually happening is absurdly elaborate, but even that pays off in a beautiful final scene that encapsulates the whole film’s sun-touched, feverish allure. This is YA that emphasizes the “A.” Read more.

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