Film Festival Movie Review

Film Review: THE LURE: Vampire Mermaids, the Horror, the Music, Oh My! [Sundance 2016]

Michalina Olszanska The Lure Review

The Lure (2015) Film Review from the 2016 Sundance Film Festival, a movie directed by Agnieszka Smoczynska, starring Marta Mazurek, Michalina Olszanska, Jakub Gierszal, Kinga Preis, Andrzej Konopka, and Zygmunt Malanowicz.

A Polish, vampire mermaid, horror-musical set in the 1980’s – how’s that for a concept? The film made a splash on Twitter prior to its Sundance premiere this past weekend, with most people expressing an eagerness to see something so seemingly-bizarre and unfathomable, especially in America. Unfortunately, because distributors have been slow to bite this year due to the perception that this year’s films aren’t commercial enough, the rest of the world may never be able to take part in the fun.

We join two mermaid sisters, Silver (Marta Mazurek) and Golden (Michalina Olszanska), as they sing their siren song to seduce a drug-fueled family dancing around a bonfire on a Polish beach. Soon after, they join the family business – a cheeky, playful nightclub act at The Lure. Indeed, after a “splashy” debut in which they transform from two-legged dancers into sexy, scaly mermaids before a wonderstruck crowd, they become the main attraction.

When Silver starts to attract the erotic attention of who is now, essentially, her brother (Jakub Gierszal), Golden responds with a passive-aggressive jealousy that slides into a murderous rage. With bodies piling up all over town, and the police hot on her tail (pun intended), Golden feels an urgency to swim to America with her sister – but she needs to rid Silver of the spell that love has cast upon her.

Though chock-full of erotic references and implications, the film carries with it an oddly-innocent vibe that conveys a feeling that Silver and Golden know not what they do, that they are closer to feral creatures than anything remotely human. Their razor-sharp teeth and lust for blood is what truly binds them, especially as they endure the chaotic home life of their grotesque chosen family.

The film is peppered liberally with surreal musical numbers that are always fun, though they are often incoherent and, therefore, distracting; a number regarding drug abuse/recovery is particularly perplexing and seems out of place.

Don’t take it too seriously, though; the filmmakers don’t, and one can simply toss it up to cultural differences getting lost in translation. It’s more fun than frightening; more cheeky than sexy; more Edward Scissorhands meets Rocky Horror Picture Show than anything else that could be imagined.

Another observation: when the fun and music ends, it’s sudden and anti-climactic, taking away from an otherwise enjoyable, if not altogether memorable, 92-minute escape from reality. It’s worth a watch, even if just to witness the incredible special effects that are the mermaids’ long, slimy, scaly fins.

The Lure is screening at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival in the competitive World Cinema Dramatic Competition category and has yet to be acquired for U.S. distribution. 

Rating: 6.5/10

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Image Source: Sundance Institute

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About the author

Drew Stelter

Drew is a 26-year-old film buff. A native Utahan, he attends the Sundance Film Festival annually. He is a member of the Salt Lake Film Society. In a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, he attended the Oscars Red Carpet on March 2, 2014, after winning an essay contest through the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences. At any given time he can be expected to be conversing via movie quote GIFs.

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