Note: For this review I’m using the translated character names of the lead actresses, which were Srebrna (Silver) and Zlota (Golden).
First if you aren’t a fan of musicals, or even experimental productions there is a good chance you’re not going to enjoy this movie, also if foreign horror not your brand of horror then you might want to try a different review. This a black humor musical filled with interesting stage performances and basking a greenish tint, representing the sea, all of it as an appeal to those who find enjoyment in either watching the Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975) or Phantom of the Paradise (1974) of alluring oddness. Director Agnieszka Smoczynska, creating both his first horror film with a complex mythology based on Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tale “The Little Mermaid”, published in 1837, about a young mermaid willing to transfer her life to gain a human soul. However, used Robert Bolesto first horror script to add depth to his film and produce Poland’s first musical, achieving theatrical distribution through Janus Films in the United states and then subtitled by the legendary Criterion Collection. Smoczynska’s film known in its Polish language as Corki dancing, thoroughly loaded large musical numbers, and a couple of cunning, evil and wonderful vocal sirens, all add to a weird flick, with unique thrills and multiple oddities.
When we first meet Silver (Marta Mazurek) and Golden (Michalina Olszanska), they rise from the ocean depths singing a seductive tune leading two drunken men Mietek (Jakub Gierszal, who starred in Dracula Untold (2014)) and his father Perkusista (Andrzej Konopka) to the water’s edge. Just as the two succumb to the enticing sound, a scream from Krysia (Kinga Preis) breaks the spell and the mermaids exit the water transforming to naked women however, they have no genitalia; they’re smooth as Barbie dolls. Soon enough the family, adopts them with Perkusista seeing dollar signs about these two sea creatures, but their voice skills make them an ideal part of the stage show. First, Silver and Golden meet the club’s lecherous owner Kierownik sali (Zygmunt Malanowicz) of a sleazy Polish cabaret, where they perform as strippers as well as singers. Needless to say, an odd combination, but the impressive Golden and Silver perform well even with killer intentions, and twisted sexual desires. Once the two girls take the stage, along with the Mietek and his family the audience sees them in human form, and quickly enough as mermaids with the audiences cheering for more, likely thinking it’s all an elaborate hoax, because mermaids don’t exist. As the days carry-on Silver falls more in love with Mietek, which angers Golden, especially disrupting their plans of swimming to America. Golden plots revenge wanting to leave but not without her sister Silver, and returns to a vampire themed monster, hence alerting the authorities. Their killing definitely brings a bloody mess to the set of this flick. A second subplot begins to develop as Silver wants to become human and have a her tail removed in exchange for a true woman’s lower half, as sex only possible with slit in her tail. Meanwhile another former creature of the sea, also a vocalist but in the metal music arena, warns Golden of the dangers and death Silver heading for if this corrupted love goes on much longer.
One needs to appreciate over-the-top cinematography and presenting a well-formulated script, giving extra thought to the music, it’s quite 80s synth-pop. The music doesn’t start and stop on the stage but extends past that, with the sets transforming into more shimmering reflecting fish scales in the water. Understanding the music tends to struggle with a foreign viewer and listeners, however the rhythm does tend to help, however the musical numbers feel more like music videos, trending towards impromptu dialogue sequences, followed by another song. Although, the film works through many genres, from fantasy to comedy and drama, but when the killing starts it definitely dives with a splash into horror. The design of the tails they sprout similar to Daryl Hannah in Splash (1984), only longer and slimier.
The movie, as a whole, demands your attention, especially reading the subtitles, especially if you’re unfamiliar with the polish language. Mermaids (or sirens) have played a part in horror too many times to count, such as the film Killer Mermaid (2014) and while not all appearances of them equal horror, this one makes it sometimes swimming against the current to show promise to a will audience. Therefore, why not explore new horrors, enjoy The Lure of this fishy tale, after all remember the foreign movie Train to Busan (2016) It captured many horror fan’s attention.
IMDb Rating: 6.4/10
Baron’s Rating: 7/10
Warning the trailer not NSFW: