Tuesday, October 13, 2015

31 Days of Halloween 2015: Spring

2014, Justin Benson, Aaron Moorhead (V/H/S Viral) -- download

"What's this one about?" I ask Marmy.

"A boy travels to Italy and suspects the girl he meets might be a mystical creature," she answers.

"Doesn't quite sound like it fits the theme," I reply, thinking we are going to have a romance fantasy along the lines of Ondine or The Secret of Roan Inish. Yes, both about selkies but they were the first that came to mind, but it does make me wonder if there are other countries producing wayward romances involving mythological creatures.

But, this movie, yeah not a wayward romance. OK, it is, very much so, but not a fantasy, but a good, solid romantic horror. In much the way the last one is a solid familial ghost story, full of sweet tragedy, this is a scary monster story within a solid summer romance.

Evan has had a crappy couple of years. He left college when his dad died, to move home and take care of his mom, who soon after died of cancer. He has been working as a line cook in a crappy bar and on the night of her funeral, ends up beating a thug to a pulp; said thug was about to smash Evan's buddy with a bottle. On a whim, he takes off to Italy to sort himself out.

Evan's an average guy, mild mannered but assured of himself enough to travel Italy on his own and to question the intentions of the red dressed hottie he hits on, when she wants to immediately leave the bar for sex. Whoah, too quick. He wants to flirt, have some coffee, get to know the girl before disappearing into her room. He rightfully suspects he might be robbed, beaten, drugged or whatever incredible looking women do to American tourists in sleepy Italian villages. She laughs and walks away from him, but that only intrigues him more.

This is the kind of indie film making I enjoy. No recognizable faces and a hazy lack of recognizable genre directing that is definitely going to lead somewhere. The two do connect, in a Before Sunset sort of way, hanging out exclusively for about five days while we catch glimpses of weird things going on around Evan and Louise. Flowers spontaneously blooming, mysterious injections, patches of weird skin, etc. By the time Louise has to dump Evan, we are well aware something very very strange is going on with her.

**SPOILERs**

But it doesn't end there, after the horror of the transformations she is going through are dumped for a science fiction explanation of immortality through unique biology. Louise is over two thousand years old, and every twenty or so years, she has to get pregnant and use those cells to regenerate a new body. She tells Evan, wanting to protect him from the intervening transformations that are uncontrolled and dangerous. She fully expects him to run. He does but then, well, he decides he is live love with her. Can she abandon immortality for him? What was it like living over 2000 years? Can they even have a life together? Yeah,  this kid is pretty messed up if he can forget monster for pretty girl. But the movie does a pretty damn good job of convincing us this is sweet and romantic while also telling us that she is willing to give up all she is for him. Come sunrise, well, in the shadow of Mt Vesuvius decisions are made and...