At last, a thoroughly appropriate pick to round out this month’s spring theme. Maybe a little too on the nose, this week’s film is…Spring. And it’s also the last film of the month where we’ve finally gotten the hang of the theme thing. As usual, I have no regrets about our consistently creative interpretations. Which I’m pretty sure our film’s protagonists would support.
Justin Benson & Aaron Moorhead
With no ties keeping him in the States, a young man travels to Italy and is intrigued by a woman with a twisted secret.
Following the death of his mother and last living family member to cancer, Evan finds himself alone, unhappy personally and professionally. After a stranger picks a fight with him at the bar where he works, Evan seems on a perpetual downward spiral. Losing his job and worried the cops or the stranger will come after him, Evan decides to make use of his neglected passport and travel the world. And where do white people want to go if not Italy?
Meeting a couple of drunken Brits on his first night abroad, Evan impulsively joins them on their drive along the coast. Honestly, I got very sidetracked by my anxiety about Evan’s complete absence of a vacation plan at this point, but I powered through it. While in a small coastal town, Evan locks eyes with a gorgeous woman in a red dress and takes it as something of a sign when he encounters her again.
Working up the nerve to ask the woman, Louise, on a date, Evan is invited back to her place as she explains she doesn’t date. Evan’s too intrigued just to hook up and never see her again; when the Brits decide to move on, Evan hangs around, responding to a sign offering a room in exchange for farm work. Shockingly, the elderly farmer living alone in the Italian countryside doesn’t give off serial murderer vibes.
When Evan runs into Louise again, he asks one more time for a date, and the two end up spending the day together exploring a museum and enjoying the fresh air. Louise is a student of evolutionary genetics and knows a suspicious amount about fertility scenes in ancient art, but that doesn’t seem like a deal breaker…right?
After the two spend a night together, strange things happen to Louise’s appearance, and dead things begin turning up around the town. Catching Louise injecting herself with needles, Evan becomes concerned she’s using drugs…though the truth turns out to be much more troubling. As Evan falls for Louise, it’s clear she’s holding onto a major secret. How much longer can Evan continue to lead his Italian fantasy life?
4/5 Pink Panther Heads
Though I do think some of the earlier scenes involving Evan’s life in the States are unnecessary & mopey, the build-up to our twist works so well. There’s seriously so much of the film dedicated to establishing what a nice guy Evan is, and honestly he’s pretty bland and boring.
I’m impressed with how many genres this film pulls from and manages to blend them together fairly seamlessly. As is well established on the Collab, romantic films are never our top pick, but the romance works well here. While the twist is very much classic horror, its dramatic revelation doesn’t go in the direction I expected. There are some surprisingly funny observations (Louise and Evan dissecting classic art is a favorite for me) and quite a few more philosophical discussion than I’d associate with horror (or romance for that matter). We’re considering the breezy questions only; what does it mean to live, to die, to be successful?