Every now and then an independent film like Spring (2014) comes along and make me nostalgic for the edgy, anything-goes filmmaking of the 1970s. This one is all over the map, and not entirely successful, but it’s wonderfully unpredictable in a way that Hollywood, with its ruthlessly finessed and screen-tested products, never manages any more.
When Evan (Lou Taylor Pucci) loses his mother to cancer, and then his job, he uses inheritance money on an impulsive holiday to Italy. His travels land him in an idyllic, seaside resort town where he spontaneously pursues work as a farmhand. He also meets Louise (Nadia Hilker), a beautiful young scientist who may well be the love of his life, but who also harbors an astonishing, terrifying secret.
Spring is several different movies, playing out in jagged sequence; fortunately, most of them are compellingly executed. Evan’s story starts as a tale of Southern California slacker aimlessness, then morphs into a pictureseque European travelogue, before landing in an entirely unexpected zone of science fictional horror. These contextual left turns consistently shift the narrative into new gears, leading to more than one WTF revelation. Alas, once the creepy mystery is explained, the story veers into a final act that’s just as unexpected and interesting, but not quite as gripping, which leads to a somewhat anticlimactic ending.
Even so, Spring has a lot to recommend it, especially for fans of weird cinema in the vein of Nicolas Roeg, David Lynch, or Under the Skin. Pucci and Hilker’s easy chemistry, stunning Italian scenery, and a refreshing structural restlessness make it a rewarding watch for fans of surreal horror and authentic indie cinema.