A movie review of “Spring”: This unique mashup of genres — horror, relationship drama, ironic comedy — becomes a lost opportunity. Rating: 2 stars out of 4.

Share story

“Spring” has been praised for its bold crossing of multiple genres — equal parts horror, relationship drama and ironic comedy. But this oddball film’s mashup innovations often come at the price of storytelling discipline and, to some extent, common sense.

What “Spring” gets very right is the rhythm of human connections: the way one bonds with a drinking buddy, or guilelessly meets strangers while traveling, or becomes anxious when romance turns serious.

All these things happen, in “Spring’s” desultory tale, to Evan (Lou Taylor Pucci), an American whose mother dies in the film’s opening moments, leaving him with no family. Impulsively jetting off to Italy, Evan joins a couple of colorful guys from the United Kingdom, and for a spell it looks as if “Spring” will be about their rowdy adventures.

Movie Review ★★  

‘Spring,’ with Lou Taylor Pucci, Nadia Hilker. Directed by Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead, from a screenplay by Benson. 109 minutes. Not rated; for mature audiences. Some dialogue in Italian, with English subtitles. Grand Illusion, through Thursday.

But … no.

Evan then takes a job at an orchard and meets the beautiful, mysterious and evasive Louise (Nadia Hilker), a scientist doing research in genetics.

Co-directors Justin Benson (who wrote the script) and Aaron Moorhead do a fine job capturing the look and feel of two people nervously transforming into lovers with an open-ended future. But there’s another kind of transformation afoot: Louise is not what she seems.

Lurking in the shadows of alleys or desperately reaching for syringes full of an unknown medicine, Louise has a monstrous affliction that spins “Spring” — quite late — into “The X-Files” territory. Benson and Moorhead handle the scary stuff skillfully, but they can’t smooth over the way “Spring” lurches from one false start to the next before finally arriving at its story.

Things get more complicated after Evan learns Louise’s secret, and the film’s tone turns self-consciously absurd. That’s a shame: “Spring’s” final stretch hints at a variation on Richard Linklater’s “Before Sunrise” with a supernatural twist. But that largely comes across as a joke.