It’s that time of the year again. The month of October is upon us. So to celebrate, we at Full Circle Cinema put together another curated, month-long series with Screen Screams. This year, we will be checking our clocks as we wait in anticipation for the forbidden delight we call “the midnight movie”. And with midnight movies comes a variety of projects that are perhaps too niche for the masses. Today, it’s time to cover the Polish horror-musical reimagining of The Little Mermaid – The Lure.
I have never seen a movie quite like The Lure. A movie that somehow blends the horror and musical genres and retains identities in both genres is no east feat. It being an adaptation of The Little Mermaid means it’s in the same company as Disney’s animated classic (of the same name) and Guillermo del Toro’s The Shape of Water. Although both adaptations have a distinct sense of identity, nothing hits the level of eccentricities such as The Lure.
The Lure follows two mysterious young women, Golden (Michalina Olszańska) and Silver (Marta Mazurek), who wash upon a beach in Poland and stumbles across rock band “Figs n’ Dates”. Both women are mermaids and possess voices like sirens. They become acquaintances with the band members and eventually start performing in the same club as the rock band. Silver becomes enamored with human life and falls in love with one of the band members. Golden on the other hand rejects humanity and attempts to persuade Silver to not envelop herself in human life.
There is an even balance at play with the musical numbers in The Lure. A typical grievance I know most people have (myself included) with musicals is not allowing enough time for characters and ideas to breath in lieu of another musical number. Even the musical numbers we get makes sense with the trajectory of the story. Nothing too overblown and nothing too underwhelming. Additionally, the way extras act in the musical numbers are confined to the plot point. For example, a musical number occurs in the club where Golden and Silver lured the guests of the club with their musical ability. Because of the siren’s song, the patrons act abnormally and over the top. The attention to detail in regards to these numbers are brilliantly executed.
In no way does this movie abandon the horror elements. Golden’s hungry tirades are brutal and leaves the viewer uneasy. The blood, the maniacally cartoon-level teeth, the gore. Delicious. A constant sense of dread looms over the viewer for the duration of the movie. At any given moment these mermaids could strike and kill if they please. You as the viewer expects these moments, but there are few seen during the movie’s runtime. This decision to hold back on the creators part makes the moments where the deaths do occur that much more satisfying.
Silver’s arc in this story is grueling and heart breaking. According to the singer of a band at the club and fellow sea creature, Triton (Marcin Kowalczyk), if Silver falls in love and doesn’t marry their lover they will turn to sea foam. Additionally, if a Silver’s tail is removed they lose their voice. Which in a cruel sense of fate, you don’t wish pain on Silver. But, in an attempt to be more human she surgically removes her tail, loses her voice, and loses her lover. The man in question, Mietek (Jakub Gierszał) falls in love with another woman and marries her. Although this was utilizing “Chekhov’s Gun”, secretly you wished it was a bluff. In the end, Silver succumbs to turning into sea foam.
On the surface, The Lure is as straight forward as it comes. But the relationships between the characters on screen feels tangible and makes you wish the outcome would be different. This is in no small part to the great acting and the brilliant direction. There was a clear vision and it’s execution shows it. Additionally, The Lure is major eye candy. The use of greens and blues grounds this into being a nautical movie. Additionally, the color combination works extremely well in a night club setting.
I won’t shy away from this, The Lure can be repulsive! And sometimes that can be ok. The Lure is a movie that swirls in your head, and will remain with you forever. Any good midnight movie will take your preconceived notions of how a movie should work and obliterate it. This movie is the mental equivalent to being hit in the head with a bat, and I can’t get enough of it.