The Lure is a 2015 Polish horror musical directed by Agnieszka Smoczyńska and written by Robert Bolesto. The film is a reworking of Hans Christian Andersen’s classic tale The Little Mermaid, with inspiration drawn from Smoczyńska’s experiences. The Lure currently holds a 6.3 on IMDb, and an 86% on the tomatometer. The film was fairly well received upon release, and would go on to win several awards, including The Special Jury Award for Unique Vision and Design at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival. I don’t remember where exactly I heard about this film, but I’ve been very excited ever since I did, despite the fact that I typically don’t enjoy musicals. In fact, if it weren’t for films like this and Phantom of the Paradise, it may very well be my least favorite genre. But thank god for films like this.
I would’ve reviewed this film a few weeks back, had I decided to cough up the money for the full priced Criterion Blu-ray. Being surprisingly less impulsive than usual, I decided to wait until Barnes & Noble’s biannual Criterion sale, and I got the film this past Saturday for $18! I could very easily write about 50% off Criterion Collection titles for a while longer, but this isn’t about that. The Lure is set sometime in the 80’s, when two mermaids, Gold (Michalina Olszanska) and Silver (Marta Mazurek) encounter a band, Figs n’ Dates, playing music on a beach in Poland. Using their siren-like seduction powers, the girls begin to reel in their latest victims, only to be interrupted by cabaret singer Krysia (Kinga Preis).
Krysia takes the girls back to the nightclub she performs at, and presents them to the owner (Zygmunt Malanowicz). Fascinated by the pair of mermaids, he agrees to allow them to perform alongside the band. And so begins their work as backup singers and strippers at the semi-seedy nightclub. Some drama arises when Silver falls for Mietek (Jakub Gierszal), the band’s bassist, despite the fact that he sees her as only a fish, and not a woman. Gold, on the other hand, continues her thirst for blood, and murders bar patrons at night to feast on, like mermaids are supposed to do. The two soon become their own act, The Lure, with the band now backing them.
Gold meets Triton (Marcin Kowalczyk), a fellow sea creature. He informs her that if Silver falls in love and her love marries someone else, Silver will turn to sea foam. Unless she eats him first, that is. Gold and Silver are kicked out of the band’s apartment when Gold’s murder is discovered. They are both knocked unconscious, rolled into carpets, and dumped into a river. The two return to the nightclub, and the band apologizes. They accept the apology, but not without biting off a finger first. Silver decides she doesn’t want to be a fish anymore, and has her tail surgically removed and replaced with legs for Mietek. This results in Silver losing her voice entirely. Silver attempts to have sex with Mietek, but when blood from her surgical scars gets on him, he is disgusted. So disgusted that he goes and meets another woman almost instantly.
Mietek ends up marrying the new woman, and both Gold and Silver attend. Gold informs silver she must eat Mietek or she will turn to sea foam. I won’t spoil the ending, because I strongly encourage everyone to check this film out. There wasn’t a single thing I didn’t love about this film. The blue and green underwater tone of the film in contrast to the seedy nightclub setting makes for a truly original atmosphere like I’ve never seen before. The acting is great, and music is even better, which is very important in a musical. Lakeshore Records is releasing the soundtrack on a “day-glo mermaid green” vinyl, but unfortunately, I missed the preorder and it’s limited to only 500 copies. It’s safe to say I’ll be spending most of my time scouring the discogs marketplace in the coming months. Though I can’t understand so much as a word in Polish, I found the music very enjoyable, and I’ve been listening to the soundtrack on spotify very frequently since I first saw the film.
The Lure is quite honestly one of the most original films I’ve seen in some time. If you’re looking for a surreal modern fairytale complete with man-eating mermaids and feminist themes, look no further. I can see myself revisiting this one fairly frequently, and I feel a viewing focusing less on the subtitles and more on everything else is due soon. So, yeah, I fucking loved this movie. The Lure isn’t available for streaming to my knowledge, but it is available on both Criterion DVD and Blu-ray! Get it while it’s on sale, you won’t regret the purchase. It’s a beautiful release with loads of special features.
I give The Lure a 10/10
I’d usually have something to recommend here, but I’ve honestly never seen anything like this.
Check out a trailer for The Lure here.