Spring film review: the best horror film of the year?

How do Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead fare with their follow-up to Resolution?

With their ambitious first film Resolution, Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead crafted a nifty and gripping genre thriller out of very little. Spring shows the duo working with a little more money and even more ambition.

Evan (Lou Taylor Pucci) is a Californian loner who’s reeling after his mother dies. When he needs to get out of the country, he flies to Italy, where he finds himself in a beautiful coastal town and catching the eye of a beautiful girl, Louise (Nadia Hilker). He falls for her, and it looks like she’s just as serious about their relationship as he is, but a secret emerges that will change everything for both of them.

It’s very difficult to talk too much about Spring without giving anything away. The film starts out very much in the Richard Linklater and mumblecore tradition: unflashy camerawork, naturalistic dialogue, and an aimless hero with an endearing romanticism.

In fact, it’s a surprise how funny Spring is. Pucci is on terrific form, providing the film with its flawed but big-hearted centre. Hilker plays her beautiful mystery with the same warmth and sense of humour as her co-star, and the longer we spend with them, the more we come to enjoy their company. The question is almost less “What exactly is Louise?” and more “What exactly does this mean for their relationship?”

The filmmakers’ determination to keep things this grounded might make Spring an acquired taste. While it is fantastical and probably most easily categorised as a horror film, the relationship is always the focal point, even as things get stranger and stranger. Spring is a very ambitious – both visually and thematically – second film, but it’s totally assured.

The duo is walking a tricky path but there’s never any sense that this isn’t exactly the film they wanted to make. So while there is the occasional misstep (the tricky third act is a bit wobbly), there’s so much to admire about Spring that this odd, funny and surprisingly sweet horror romance is highly recommended. This is a treat.