The Lure Review: Finally, a Musical About Killer Mermaids

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The Lure is a playful yet mature dive into the weird. Titled Córki dancingu in Poland, which translates to Daughters of the Dance Club, a much more appropriate though less American audience-friendly title, The Lure is a part-musical, part-slasher flick retelling of “The Little Mermaid.” It’s so delightfully insane, wildly bouncing between genres with a knowing grin on its face, that I have to admit, it’s wonderfully infectious.

We follow two mermaid sisters, Golden (Michalina Olszanska, playing the devilish, blood thirsty one with a fire in her eyes) and Silver (Marta Mazurek, playing the more virginal, innocent one, even if a cigarette still hangs on her lip) as they learn to walk by stepping foot into a Polish club when following an amateurish family band they serenaded. That’s just the opening scene. From there, since mermaids are known for their singing voices, they join the band and become part of their family, complete with a set of pseudo-foster parents (Andrzej Konopka and Kinga Preis, the latter of which almost steals the film from the mermaids) and a brother (Jakub Gierszal) that ends up becoming the target of Silver’s affections.

If you are familiar with the “The Little Mermaid” fairy tale, which inspired Disney’s version and Hayao Miyazaki’s Ponyo, the general plot points will be familiar to you. But director Agnieszka Smoczynska puts an Eastern European EDM spin on it, not to mention a splatter of blood. With dance numbers and songs packed with nautical puns, The Lure is nothing if not entertaining, but there’s some genuine emotion in it as well.

The film rarely goes flashy with its genre bending, unlike an American version likely would. In some spots, it could use the blood-soaked theatricality, but Smoczynska largely made the right choice in keeping things tight and relatively grounded. The result is a pair of siblings who’s relationship goes through fantastical trials yet is still placed in a genuine love for each other. The Lure is the rare film built on insanity that isn’t all gimmicks. The third act is emotionally rich enough that you’ll feel something when watching. It’s not going to hit you like Sophie’s Choice, but it’s definitely there.

Sadly, the final moments of the film take this undersea horror nowhere, ending the story on a bleak and tone-deaf action that makes you think the characters really didn’t transform at all. But that doesn’t get in the way of the crazy fun that this mermaid musical injects with its poppy vibe and inventive visuals. The Lure is destined to be displayed in the dorm rooms of film students worldwide for its genuine originality, dark outlook, and self-aware camp value. For most of its runtime, those achievements are more than enough. Grade: B+

By Matt Dougherty

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