Genre is a really strange thing in film. It forms viewers into teams and reduces a film into a neatly organized corner. When the question, “What kind of movies do you like?”, invariably arises the appropriate response should be: “The good ones.”. That response, though doesn’t play into the above mentality and, let’s be honest, makes you sound like a smart-ass. Beyond all of that strangeness, when the term “genre-bending” gets thrown around a new breed of oddity arises. Marketing firms scramble to decide what media outlets to peddle their movie to while video rental services riot as they try to slam the movie into one of their prearranged “genre sections”. Spring, the latest from directors Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead (the people behind the equally “genre-bending” film “Resolution”) is a film that is going to drive those labelers and categorizers absolutely insane.
Rarely has a film taken a three-act structure as seriously as Spring. In fact, it could be argued that the three acts of Spring could be three separate short films. The first act pertaining to a grieving son searching for purpose in life, the second act a love story between a young couple, and the third act a Lovecraftian monster picture. I told you the genre classifiers are going to lose their minds. This fractured narrative approach serves a purpose, however. The entire theme of the film is the exploration of the fact that for something to live, something else must die. In short, the entire film is an attempt to capture the cycle of life.
The really intriguing part of Spring, though, is that it approaches that cycle in a traditionally backwards approach; beginning with death and ending in birth. This approach is a conscious reflection of one of the main characters of the film, however. Dipping into vagueness for the purpose of avoiding spoilers, let us just say that one of our characters has a very special and atypical relationship with death and (re)birth. For this character, death isn’t your typical endpoint. It is more of an expected step in the process of nature.
If a viewer can latch on to those Lovecraftian elements of Spring they will also be treated to an impressive exploration of humanity, nature, and the concept of love. Is love a construct of nature, a symptom of pheromones and chemistry or is it something larger and far more cosmic/spiritual? Are humans special in their place of science and nature, or are we simply cogs with delusions of grandeur? All of this is explored, and explored well within a subtle container of a character study turned love story. Sure, this love story dips into a bit of a creature feature along the way, but what love story doesn’t?
So, in short, don’t ask what genre Spring falls under. Don’t ask, “I like horror, will I like this?”. No satisfying answers will come your way. Simply sit down with the film and watch as the fragmented acts traipse through the life cycle of humanity and our lovely planet. If you can grasp onto the characters presented here, and then follow them into their strange world, you will leave this film satisfied, as well as with a few things to think on. File that under the genre, “good movie”.