In Warsaw, a pair of mermaid sisters are adopted into a cabaret. While one seeks love with humans the other hungers to dine on the human population of the city.
You’ll have to forgive me for this one, ‘cause it’s a doozy – but the new horror/fantasy/musical The Lure – about two mermaid/siren sisters joining a night-club act – will quite simply seduce you – or lure you in with its uniqueness and magic. It’s a much darker and deeper version of Ron Howard’s Splash – rife with catchy musical numbers, plentiful nudity and a touching tale about sisterhood, loyalty and love.
Siren sisters Golden and Silver (Michalina Olszanska and Marta Mazurek; respectively) surprise the drunken members of a Polish cabaret band – as the band parties near the water’s edge. The sisters promise not to eat the three-member band – and thus begins a journey for the two sea-creatures into the night-life of Warsaw and into a promising music career. The thing is, Silver falls in love with the band’s bassist Mietek (Jacub Gierszal) and Golden’s appetite for flesh take them both on very different routes. Oh, and once again – the film is a musical.
On the technical side, The Lure is a masterpiece. It’s a beautiful production – solid in editing, camerawork, costumes and lighting. But it’s the make-up effects and visual effects which will truly stun you. As in the aforementioned Splash, when the girls are in water or sprinkled with water, their lower halves turn into the scaly tail of a fish – going as high as their waists. It’s clear that the appliances are practical (based on their easy and expressive movement), but they’re no less impressive. There’s really only one moment where we see the actual transformation via visual effects, and it works nicely. But most of the time, we get “before” and “after” pictures. There’s also plenty of gore in the film, as Golden feeds her need to feast on flesh. And there’s a surgery sequence which is emotionally trying as well as a feast for the eyes as far as make-up work.
I was in love with the telepathic communication between the sisters – illustrated in the film through dolphin squeaks and whale songs. I am always impressed when actors can share so much of their characters through body language and looks, and when the sisters communicate between themselves, that’s exactly what they achieve.
The performances from the two leads are brave. They’re nude for much of the film (they’re mermaids, y’all). You will truly understand their own debilitating “lure”, that of a flashy human life of clubs and cigarettes and booze; but they can never deny who and what they really are. And the fact that we can see that struggle, as well as the feelings of betrayal and loyalty between them – shows how much these two actresses bring to the table. But truth be told, this film is more about the journey for Silver. She falls in love with Mietek and it changes her forever. Golden is confused as to how to proceed, never falling for the joys of love – only the joys of the flesh. It’s an impressive chemistry between Mazurek and Olszanska – and certainly a highlight in a film of so many quality components.
But Kinga Preis as Wokalistka – the lead singer of the band – steals the show. Perhaps it’s that opening number of her singing Donna Summer’s “I Feel Love” which hooked me, but despite everything going on in this film, she made me smile every time she took the screen. She commands your attention. Wokalistka is the matriarch of the band and the star of the show. She welcomes the girls – but Preis never lets you forget that she’s the star. The girls become her daughter, but there’s always – just under the surface (ahem) – jealousy and resentment when their singing careers take center stage. Preis is The Lure’s treasure chest.
My absolute favorite number (they’re all awesome) finds the girls in their first day out in the city – shopping and seeing the public. The choreography was stunning and fun and goofy – as the shoppers make their way up escalators and down aisles in a shopping center – all perfectly in sync. All the while, the girls are wide-eyed and excited. And even though this is near the front of the film and the characters are this far away from their watery-home – you can see that their relationship is beginning to fracture. Even amidst all of the fun, you’ll be on edge as you see the origins of these differences.
Despite similarities to “The Little Mermaid” (loss of the mermaid’s voice for love – the film is actually loosely based on that Hans Christian Andersen tale) and Splash, The Lure is a very dark film and the climax is devastating. I’ll offer no spoilers, but there’s a moment just before the “fade to black” which will have you sitting on the edge of your seat as you tensely wait for a character’s life-altering decision. It hurts, and yet there’s some justice served. A marvelous and poetic ending. Should these girls ever have left their underwater home? A discussion you’ll have with fellow viewers once the credits roll.
I do also want to give a shout-out to the opening credits (captured in the poster art above) and their disturbing but engaging animation. It perfectly sets up the history of the sisters (getting so much exposition out of the way – at least for those unaware of mermaid/siren lore) and the violence inherent in them. It’s a really beautiful, memorable and creepy way to start things off.
And a fun bit of trivia – according to the film’s IMDb page, this is the first musical ever to come out of Poland! Talk about setting the bar high!
With amazing techno music, authentic make-up effects, tense and heartfelt performances, as well as a heightened sense of unique visual style, The Lure will be a film I’ll certainly add to my permanent collection.
The Lure has been playing on the festival circuit (including a showing at this year’s AFI Film Festival and it enjoyed its US premiere at Sundance) but no wider release information is currently available.
Believe me, you’ll want to take a swim with this one – just be cautious; and make certain you’re swimming with the correct sister.