Available in limited theaters as well as on VOD platform today is the romance horror film Spring, which has drawn critical acclaim. Our very own Mr. Disgusting stated that it’s one of his, “…favorite genre films of the year“, describing it as, “…a super fucked up Lovecraftian horror romance that follows a young man (played by Evil Dead‘s Lou Taylor Pucci), in a personal tailspin, who flees the U.S. to Italy, where he sparks up a romance with a woman harboring a dark, primordial secret.”
We managed to catch up with directors Justin Benson & Aaron Moorehead to discuss the score of the film, which was composed by solo artist Jimmy Lavalle. Below is our exclusive interview.
You can purchase the BitTorrent bundle right here. The bundle includes behind-the-scenes videos as well as two tracks from the score.
‘Spring’ is set primarily in Italy, which is considered one of the most beautiful and romantic countries. Did you find that the location created an expectation of what the score should sound like?
The location of what we think of as Italy itself didn’t, as far as we know. We never really wanted it to sound in any way Italian, or classical, or heavenly (ie the heavy Catholicism of the country). But the imagery of the area certainly did. We wanted it to feel as strangely stoic and dry and isolating occasionally as the rural coast can be, or as warm and all-embracing as the tiny little town of Polignano a Mare.
The horror genre sadly hasn’t seen a lot of romance come across its path lately. What did you feel the score needed to convey above all else? In what direction did it need to steer the viewer’s emotions?
We really wanted to find a warm, loving score that somehow wasn’t cheesy. The traditional “romance” score, to us at least, is inherently cheesy, but our story is untraditional and it would have been all wrong paired with some high-strings, full-orchestra music.
The soundtrack uses many samples that are then completely transformed into something totally unrecognizable from the original source, such as a baby’s cry. In a way, it seems like this mirrors the relationship between Evan and Louise. Did you find that the score reflected the metamorphosis of the story?
Jimmy understood the direction of the film almost immediately, and he would form themes around characters rather than plot or scenes. He knew that we needed to start in a dark place (we were always chanting at him “Darker, DARKER!” in his studio), but where it ends is something melancholy with only a hint of that same darkness. We don’t like when people say that music guides the emotions of the viewer. The film as a whole should be doing that, and music should supplement the gestalt, not trump it and guide the emotions to a place they wouldn’t otherwise naturally land.
Often times these days, a film’s score is comprised of a musical cues and strong elements of sound design. How did you as directors find a balance between these two aural elements?
We like to have our mixer Yahel mix the sound design quite loud, so you can hear every little bitty thing that happens. We try not to ride a balance between music and sound design — the music either steps in fully in the movie and the sound design takes a full backseat to let the music fully wash over you, or it’s quite ambient and it’s only really fighting for volume with the ambiance. We spend more time in the mixing room than we do on set, probably, and building the soundscape is where the movie often is the time where it “clicks” and starts to work for us.
Ultimately, what made you decide that Jimmy Lavalle was the right person to create the score for ‘Spring’?
Besides being a personal friend, all of his music has an unashamed sentimentality to it, can tell a story without words, and in some ways has a genre of music all to himself. He’s progressive rather than reactionary, trailblazing instead of imitative, and that fits the ethos of the film like a glove.
When you ultimately look back on the score for ‘Spring’, what thoughts or feelings come to mind?
There was a moment when we left Jimmy’s studio, it was after hearing his “Louise Theme” for the first time (the slow-motion scene where Evan walks through the city square and sees Louise), where one of us turns to the other and said “I am so jealous of ourselves, because we get to use that music in our movie.” The thoughts and feelings are one of accomplishment in making the right choice with Jimmy (not that it was ever going to be anyone else), as well as amazement at what he’s created for the film.