in Shocktober

The Lure (2015)

I wasn’t sure what to expect from a “Polish Horror Musical” turns out that’s a very accurate description. The Lure or “The Daughters of Dance Party” is the story of two mermaids who join a small-time electronic pop band only to find themselves disenchanted by the selfish desires of mankind. It also has rock and roll sing-a-longs and the devouring of human flesh. It’s a well-rounded film.

The film is set in the 1980s and begins with a trio of musicians playing by the beach. They attract the attention of two mermaid sisters, Silver (Marta Mazurka) and Golden (Michalina Olszanska), who befriend them by joining in song. Turns out the trio is the house band and what I can only describe as a “Disco Cabaret” filled with dance songs and women stripping.

The band is comprised of a sleazy middle-aged drummer (Andrzej Konopka), a middle-aged singer/keytarist (Kinga Preis) and a young adult bass player (Jakub Gierszal) with boy band good looks. The band shows the nightclub’s owner (Zygmunt Malanowicz) how the girls have the ability to transform from human to mermaids with water and he enlists them as backup singers/strippers. I guess in Europe people are cool with these kinds of things.

I should mention these aren’t your standard mermaids either. Instead of the beautiful sparkling fins, you’re used to seeing in Disney films, both sisters have six-foot-long eel tails and the desire to eat humans. Though the sisters are drawn into the spotlight, becoming the main attraction of the club, and later true love when Silver falls in love with the bass player. Golden fears of her sister losing sight of who or should I say “what” she is and a rift forms.

Later, Golden meets a heavy metal singer named Tryton (Marcin Kowalczyk) who also claims to be a sea creature—never sure what kind—and warns Golden that if her sisters falls for human and that human later marries a different woman, Silver will turn into sea foam unless she eats him. If those aren’t stakes I don’t know what is.

Let’s not forget the whole time this is all going on the characters are joining together in song and dance numbers. Most of the on-stage performances are disco or electronic/pop but off stage, it trends closer to alternative rock. I liked the music quite a bit, it’s kind of like Tegan and Sara if it was performed by man-eating mermaids. So not that different.

I was afraid early on I would have trouble adapting to the film’s grit and penchant for full frontal nudity. Very European. It’s only weird because the girls/mermaids are treated as though they might be teenagers but the actresses are indeed adults. As the film went on I realized you can’t do a realistic mermaid story without quite a bit of nudity so it’s completely justified.

The film is, of course, a reworking of the classic Little Mermaid story. Silver even loses her voice when she decides she wants to be human. Though I can assure you the two stories don’t end the same way, oh no. This ain’t for kids.

The Lure was directed by Agnieszka Smoczyńska who’s next project is reported to be a science fiction opera with a David Bowie soundtrack. After watching The Lure I can think of no better person for the job. Wham bam thank you, ma’am.