If I told you that The Lure was a film about killer mermaids then you'd not be bothered by me reviewing it as a horror movie, I assume. You might even be unphased if I told you that it uses the mermaids as proxies for many people in the world around us who are exploited, shaped into something else, and then left in a state that doesn't allow them to just slip back into their former life. But if I told you that it was also a musical, didn't really have many moments of tension or scares, and is basically a strange and cool updating of The Little Mermaid (the Hans Christian Andersen tale, not the Disney animated film), then I can understand that you might balk at the idea of me including it as a horror viewing. Well, I'm counting it.
Marta Mazurek and Michalina Olszanska play the two mermaids, Silver and Golden. They encounter a band singing on a beach one evening and end up going along with them to a nightclub, where they are eventually turned into part of the act. They become singers, stripping as well, and seem to go down well with the clientele. Unfortunately, Silver can't control the urge to go out at night and find someone to eat while Golden finds herself falling in love with the bass player of the band (Jakub Gierszal). Things start to turn sour.
Written by Robert Bolesto, The Lure is quite the entertaining genre mash up. After a very brief prologue that sets up the meeting of the characters, things become very cool and pop-tastic, staying that way for a little while before showing the struggle that the two leads will face (one due to love, one due to staying true to her own nature). It's a smooth transition, allowing viewers to accept the central idea well enough before playing around with it and introducing all of the other main plot points. The dialogue may not be the best you will hear but this is a film more interested in using the fantastical to explore issues that affect people every day.
Director Agnieszka Smoczynska does a fantastic job, moving on from a selection of shorts and TV work to her debut feature with a good eye and plenty of confidence required to handle the imagery, tone, and performances. Even during the busiest, and strangest, moments, she never loses her eye on the focus of the tale. And she's also very good at handling the musical moments (there are some enjoyable, lively, tunes here).
Mazurek and Olszanska both do well in their roles, expressing plenty with just a look as they sometimes communicate telepathically, and comfortable in the fact that they have to be fairly nude for most of the runtime. Geirszal is also good, Marcin Kowalczyk makes a good impression as another land-living creature from the sea (he is, in fact, playing an incarnation of Triton), and Kinga Preis and Magdalena Cielecka are both very good as performers affected by the introduction of the mermaids into their lives/performing group.
If you go into The Lure expecting a standard horror movie then you're going to be VERY disappointed, despite the fact that it is tagged in that way. That is just one part of it (and you get a few moments of bloodshed and quick violence to warrant that). But the horror here stems from mistreatment and abuse that may feel over the top here, because of the main environments and the central characters, but is actually not too many steps away from a version of reality that many victims suffer through. That's what makes The Lure so effective and powerful, once you realise that the sheen of fantasy is just sugar-coating a very bitter pill.
You can buy the movie here.
Americans can get it here.