Five things you need to know about… the genre- splicing indie sci- fi/ horror/ romance
I T’S BEFORE SUNRISE MEETS BODY HORR OR
In Spring, the new film from co- directors Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead, young American Evan ( Lou Taylor Pucci) travels to Italy and meets the girl- of- his- dreams, Louise ( Nadia Hilker). So far, so Richard Linklater, whose will- they- won’t- they romance Before Sunrise can be found in the film’s DNA. And then? Turns out Louise isn’t your everyday girl- next- door, hiding a centuries- old secret about her past. “We like to say it’s a naturalistic romance in the vein of Linklater,” says Benson, “but with the body horror of early Cronenberg.”
A UNI QUE MONSTER MYTHOLOGY
Evan swiftly learns that Louise is a shape- shifting creature, requiring periodic injections to stave off her transformation. But what is she? The film lays out an intricate set of rules: “This movie has been made with a completely unique monster, and a new mythology had to be developed,” says Moorhead. The trick was explaining it to the audience organically, having it grow out of the emotion of the scene. “That’s the good way of doing it,” says Moorhead. “The bad way is having the experts show up, to explain it all.”
THE VFX ARE HOMEMADE
As he did on their last film, the supernatural Winter’s Bone- like
Resolution, Moorhead worked on many of the visual effects himself. “There were about 150 visual effects shots and I’d say I did 145.” Training himself on the art of VFX from a young age, he admits it’s been “absurdly useful” when it comes to making an effectsdriven indie. “You have no idea how much money we saved. Our post- production budget was like nothing! There’s a lot in there that are totally invisible and I’m really, really proud of them.”
DIVIDE AND CONQUER
Meeting at Ridley Scott’s commercials company RSA, when they were both interns, Benson and Moorhead have since got their filmmaking down to a fine art. Both co- direct, co- produce and co- edit. While only Benson is credited as a screenwriter, he maintains that his partner is very much involved with the development process, taking notes and giving feedback. “He’s intrinsic to the script,” says Benson, who wrote their next script – about the legendary demon- worshipping Aleister Crowley – while Moorhead was finishing the VFX. “We prefer to do everything ourselves if we can.”
MIN D THE GAP
Another job these multi- hyphenates did together on Spring was the casting. It wasn’t easy. “We don’t really follow celebrity as much as we should,” says Moorhead, which made sifting through the 500 head shots sent by the talent agencies for actors to play Evan very difficult. “They all looked exactly the same – like chiselled Gap models.” Eventually, they encountered Lou Taylor Pucci, star of the recent Evil Dead remake, who had told his agency a week before he read the script for Spring that he was looking to do a romance with a sci- fi/ horror angle. “Two days later, he sent us a text and he’d shaved his head, like the character,” notes Moorhead. “Right then it was like, ‘ This movie is real!’”
Spring opens on Friday 17 April.
Is she a vampire, werewolf, zombie, witch or alien? Wait and see!
Spring’s Nadia Hilker can next be seen in TNT’s Breed, a show that’s also about murderous