THE LURE screened as a part of the World Dramatic category at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival. For more information, head here.
If you aren’t hooked by the phrase”mermaid vampire horror musical,” then there’s no hope. And also there might be something wrong with you. Because MERMAID VAMPIRE HORROR MUSICAL. MERMAID. VAMPIRE. HORROR. MUSICAL.
Agnieszka Smoczyńska created the most magical, beautiful, mermaid fever dream with The Lure. It’s all kinds of mind-blowing, especially given this is her first feature film. It’s one thing to tackle famous mythology and it’s another to up the ante with provocative production design, moody lighting, some blood and gore, and a slick mix of CGI and practical special effects. And then if that wasn’t enough, might as well write some original songs and make it a musical. Because why not. (Also, the songs span all sorts of genres, including pop, heavy metal, slow jams. Because one genre would just be too easy, guys.)
The film focuses on telling the story through the stunning visuals and catchy songs. The narrative itself is very loose, but that’s alright because the story only deviates a little bit from typical mermaid folklore. Golden and Silver are sisters and mermaids. They use their enchanting voices to attract the attention of a band playing music on the beach. The band takes the mermaids in and they become part of their act at the adult nightclub where the band work. Also, maybe they like to eat people for their blood from time to time (told you it deviates a little).
Golden and Silver, when not wet, have legs like any human, but have the genital region of a Barbie doll—if you catch my drift. They’re excited to be experiencing the human world, though, and plan to only stay for a little bit before swimming to America. Except Silver falls in love with a human. And just like the mermaid stories we’ve heard before, she’s warned that if her beloved marries someone else, she’ll turn into sea foam unless she kills him.
What really propels the story forward and grounds it (if a mermaid vampire horror musical can be grounded) is the chemistry between Silver (Marta Mazurek) and Golden (Michalina Olszanska). In the film, the sisters can communicate telepathically and you almost forget Mazurek and Olszanska are actually acting. It is truly a joy to watch them dive in (ahahahaha) to this story and truly act the shit out of it.
This is bizarre movie for sure and won’t be for everyone. But Smoczyńska has created a unique, luscious, sexy one-of-a-kind film that demands to be seen. Because how often can you say you’ve seen a mermaid vampire horror musical, right?
Siân Melton is covering Sundance for us live from Park City, Utah. Read about her other work, including her Toronto-based film series The MUFF Society, below.