A horror musical based on ‘The Little Mermaid’ is a unique idea but does it make it a good one?
Mermaids and sirens have a long literary history. Greek myths told stories of dangerous wretches who would draw sailors to their deaths using their siren song. While sometimes associated with the natural disasters, mermaids tend to be the more benevolent of the two mythical sea creatures. The Lure is a 2015 Polish musical that combines elements of the two fabled characters while also drawing from The Little Mermaid.
The Lure is the story of Golden and Silver, two mermaids who are discovered one night by a band that performs at a local nightclub. The two mermaids join the band and before long relationships are formed that will endanger the lives of everyone involved.
The Lure is vibrant in both look and sound. The film is a neon splashed ride that constantly fills the screen with bright colors. Many scenes take place in a nightclub that at times takes on the look of a dark and sultry lounge while at other times is as multicolored as a 1970’s discotheque. Signs in the city add to the movie’s atmosphere. The film has an almost timeless look to it that fits the story it is telling.The music is well done and dates the movie to the late 1970s or early 80s. When Golden and Silver meet Figs n’ Dates, the band is playing disco at the club. Over the course of the musical, the music changes from disco to 80s Europop to punk. This eclectic mix keeps the music and movie interesting. All of the sounds are very catchy, with some being very haunting.
If your stated intention is to write a musical based on The Little Mermaid, eyebrows will immediately raise. After all, Disney has already made the best possible version, right? Writer Robert Bolesto and director Agnieszka Smoczynska decide to stay closer to the source material than the family friendly Disney adaptation. In the story by Hans Christian Andersen, the Little Mermaid falls in love with a prince makes a deal with a sea witch, however if the prince does not fall in love with her, she will turn into sea foam. This is a bit of a departure form the version starring Ariel since worst case scenario she just remains a mermaid. (And is also Ursula’s slave, but at least she is alive.)The Lure plays with the Andersen fairy tale and adds a very high stakes scenario to the movie. This is no longer just a fantasy about two mermaids who have become part of a popular band. This is now a movie about the importance of love and life itself. It is a surprisingly deep aspect to a film that looks to be mostly pomp and circumstance.
Therein lies the biggest problem with The Lure. It never seem quite sure what it wants to be. The movie starts with Golden and Silver using their alluring siren song to tempt a group of people out to a lake. It seems like it was to kill them, but it turns out the people are Figs n’ Dates. Was it their plan to live on the surface world? If so, did they want to become unpaid backup singers at a tawdry nightclub? The movie never answers these questions as it is too busy speeding through stories of sea foam, the beastial nature of mermaids, a random finger biting that goes nowhere, and a whole song that seems to have nothing to do with the movie. It is all very jarring and prevents the viewer from ever being completely immersed in story.That being said, the special effects are top notch. Mermaids are always pictured as being very beautiful and their lower amphibian parts are made to look more beautiful than any pair of legs. In The Lure, the mermaid tales look like something found in a fish market. They are grotesque and look out of place. The real beauty is in how Golden and Silver look. This may be the best depiction of mermaids on film ever.
The Lure has one big fault: it is too ambitious. The movie is scary, funny, original, and over the top, but it just does not know where to draw the line. Filled with catchy music and great special effects, The Lure is worth a short. Just be prepared for a sensory overload.