Posted by Michael Parsons on March 22, 2015 in / 1 Comment


“I just want to make sure you’re the kind of crazy I can live with,” says Evan (Lou Taylor Pucci) to the lovely and mysterious Louise (Nadia Hilker), a brunette beauty with some big-time baggage. Boy, is he in for a surprise!

You might remember Pucci playing the obnoxious dolt who unleashed ancient demons in 2013’s “Evil Dead” reboot; here, he’s a rather likable young man who just happens to fall head-over-heels for a genetic anomaly/succubus/supermodel during a journey of self-discovery in Italy.

“Spring”, which comes from “Resolution” directors Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead, is impossible not to compare to Richard Linklater’s “Before” film series, as many have done since its premiere at last year’s Toronto Film Festival. It is perhaps the most passive horror movie of recent memory, first and foremost a love story, not unlike Xan Cassavetes’ retro-chic vampire flick “Kiss of 129827_orithe Damned” with shades of Jonathan Glazer’s visually stunning “Under the Skin”. The film is so intriguing, strange, sweet and charming that one might wonder if this filmmaking duo were actually responsible for a headache-inducing segment in this year’s found-footage horror anthology sequel “V/H/S: Viral” that they’re credited for making.

But I digress. Enter Evan, a twenty-something bartender who, in the wake of losing his mother to cancer, begins to take a self-destructive path. After nearly beating a miscreant bar patron to death, he decides to go abroad, where he settles into a little seaside village that looks like something out of myth (to call it simply scenic would be an understatement, and probably an insult to Moorhead, who doubles as the cinematographer).

When Evan strikes up a conversation with the sultry Louise, her immediate interest in bedding him throws up some red flags: “Are you a hooker”? he asks, laughing. “Are you going to rob me or something?” She somewhat playfully spurns him when he insists that he take her out to dinner the following evening instead of indulging in the abrupt proposition for sex. “You’re making things more complicated than they need to be”, she says. Ladies and gentlemen, cinematic history may have been made with this scene, at least as far as the horror genre goes.

Keep in mind, I’m using “horror” as the nearest, most obvious categorization, but if one were to excise about 30 seconds of icky moments, the film could be a romantic drama about soul mates meeting in the midst of a complicated illness. The screenplay from Benson, as well as performances from the two actors, get us fully invested in these characters, who develop a relationship that might be defined as unusual even before we discover that Louise is some variation of Sil from “Species”. It is a more believable and passionate dynamic than any Nicholas Sparks adaptation could ever hope to achieve.

An early bet for my hidden gem of the year, “Spring” is a great indie flick with big aspirations, but one that works wisely within its budget limitations. Impressive mostly in its commitment to fully exploring the extent to which love can transcend all things, while pondering concepts both evolutionary and spiritual, the film is gorgeously shot, relentlessly moody, and most importantly, extraordinarily well-acted. This is ideal for couples of diametrically opposed tastes who are at an impasse for date night movie ideas, a bit like last year’s “Twilight Zone” romance “The One I Love”. Only for this one, for reasons I won’t explain, I’d avoid eating any seafood beforehand.

“Spring” is playing in select cities and available on most VOD platforms.

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Michael Parsons

Father. Realtor®. Movie nut. After pestering my parents for their commentary on “Star Wars” when I was four years old, my mind went into a creative frenzy. I’d imagined something entirely different than the actual film, which I didn’t end up seeing until its 1979 re-release at the Uptown Theater in Washington, DC. This was my formal introduction to the cinema.

During that long wait, which felt like an eternity to a child, my mind was being molded by more corrosive stuff like “Trilogy of Terror” and “Rosemary’s Baby”, most of which I’d conned various babysitters into letting me watch on television ( I convinced one poor lady that “Jaws” was actually “Moby Dick”).

The folks were pretty strict in that regard, so the less appropriate it was for a kid to watch, the more I was fascinated by it. Horror staples like “Halloween” and “Friday the 13th”, as well as lesser-known low-budget fare like “Madman”, “Sleepaway Camp” and “Pieces” all ended up sneaking their way into the VHS on a regular basis.

Since then, I’ve developed an obsession with the entire film industry. Even though I watch and review a wide breadth of films these days, my appreciation for the campy, poorly lit micro-budgeters still lends itself to my evolving perspective on movies just as much as the summer blockbusters and Oscar contenders. As I recall my trips to the movie theater, I realize that this stuff is about much more than just a fleeting piece of entertainment.

A couple years ago, I was finally given the opportunity to lend my opinion on films to a publication, The Rogers Revue, with a subsequent run at Reel Film News. It's been both a privilege and a gateway to what we’re doing now. Most of my experience has come from interviewing independent filmmakers, who consistently promote innovation. The filmmaking process is grueling and relatively unforgiving.

Fellow film enthusiast Eddie Pasa and I have created DC Filmdom as a medium for film reviews, discussion, and (inevitably) some debate. And so, the creative frenzy continues.

(Michael is a member of the Washington, DC Area Film Critics Association).

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