Short Film Spotlight: Spring

Writer-director Hong Khaou’s 13-minute short film Spring could be either a horror-thriller or a wildly erotic celebration of how exploring one’s kinks through BDSM can be a liberating experience. It’s hard to tell, even once the film has ended, and that’s all by design.

Chris O’Donnell (no, not the one you’re thinking of) stars as Joe, a young man who clearly wants to explore his submissive side, but has some reservations. He’s particularly nervous during his first meeting with Tim (Jonathan Keane), a handsome, slightly older stranger who assures him that he’s “in safe hands.” Joe isn’t so sure, but he’s just curious enough to find out.

For Joe, this potential encounter all about the sexual thrill. He relishes kneeling in front of his older master, taking in his scent. Tim, however, is more interested in the psychological aspects of their coupling. Once they have arrived back at what may or may not be Tim’s residence, a cavernous home with plenty of empty rooms to explore (and no one to hear you scream), a struggle plays out between their very different desires, after which, nothing will be the same as before.

Khaou builds tension from the very first frames of Spring and never lets up. There’s no moment during this stylish short where we’re not wondering if Tim is a sociopath who plans to murder – or at least deeply psychologically scar – Joe. His experience, equal fear and excitement, becomes our own.

Spring earned great acclaim at film festivals all around the world when it debuted in 2011 and it’s easy to see why. Hong Khaou’s next project was the 2014 feature-length film Lilting, a deeply emotional drama staring Ben Whishaw as a young man trying to form a relationship with his deceased lover’s Chinese-Cambodian mother. We highly recommend both and can’t wait to see what he does next.

Spring is available not on Dekkoo.

Chris O'Donnell and Jonathan Keane in Spring