Not nearly as fantastic as it sounds, the Polish horror/comedy/musical The Lure pulls from so many different genres and inspirations that it can’t decide what it wants to be.
Unable to master nor marry its discordant parts, Agnieszka Smoczynska’s remix of Hans Christian Andersen's Little Mermaid finds carnivorous aquatic sisters Silver (Marta Mazurek) and Gold (Michalina Olszanska) stepping on land in 1980s Warsaw and promptly become nightclub singing stars.
Sprouting impressively-constructed mono-fins with a splash of water, the sirens have legs, but to quote Alan Rickman’s Metatron from Dogma when referring to his private parts, they’re “as anatomically correct as a Ken doll” below the waist.
Their non-humanness makes Smoczynska’s invited ogling of their would-be nether regionssomewhat less crude, though the Lolita factor remains disturbingly high in interactions with sleazy older men and as Silver unconvincingly falls for bassist Mietek (Jakub Gierszal).
Despite these shortcomings, The Lure is at its best in the rare instances when it commits to a single genre component. The lone case when the cast bursts into a full-fledged musical number, complete with choreography, is a La La Land level delight and the nymphs’ piranha-like teeth and savage use of them on unsuspecting victims suggest a bright future for Smoczynska should she decide to focus on horror.
The film also benefits when the mermaids move away from the unappealing nightclub staff, management and clientele and encounter other water dwellers taking dry holidays. Chief among these peers is punk rocker Tryton (Marcin Kowalczyk), who reminds Gold that if Silver falls in love with Mietek and goes through with surgery to make her human, she’ll not only lose her angelic singing voice but turn to sea foam if he marries someone else.
While the inevitable operating room sequence should earn the make-up and prop departments a standing ovation, the events that follow suffer by returning to the world of the dullards. A few final thrills remain before the credits roll, but they’re not nearly enough to save the overall work.
Grade: C-plus. Not rated, but with nudity, adult language and themes. Now playing at Grail Moviehouse
(Photo: Janus Films)