THE SIREN *** USA 2019 Dir: Perry Blackshear 80 mins
Tom (Evan Dumouchel), takes some time away from his Christian duties by renting a house next to a lake. The owners warn him in a note to take care by the water as there have been a few drownings. He meets Al (MacLeod Andrews) who lives nearby and is grieving over his husband who was one who had drowned in the lake. Full of anger Al is convinced that his husband’s death was no accident and he speaks of finding the monster that did it. Not long after this Tom meets Nina (Margaret Ying Drake) who he finds swimming in the lake by his house…they fall in love. Nina has a bit of a secret though, she is a Rusalka. To those that know their Slavic folklore she is a malicious entity bound to the water. Often depicted as a kind of mermaid but not so in this. Here she looks like a normal woman but seems sad and lonely unable to leave the water. The monster inside her compells her to drown whoever ventures into her lake yet the woman she once was just wants to be loved. She has done a lot of bad things but you can see that she has no choice in the matter. It is obvious she is responsible for the death of Al’s husband and many others but how will Tom and Al handle themselves when the truth comes out? This is beautifully shot with a great atmosphere, it has a very creepy feel to it to start with, however this is short lived as it doesn’t quite live up to it’s potential. Initial dread creeps in very effectively only to be extinguished quickly by drawn out build ups that frequently lead to nothing in particular. The prolonged suspense delivering more disappointment then anything remotely jumpy. That being said it is a very compelling story, well told and expertly acted. Dumouchel’s character is mute so dialogue is quite sparse leaving cheesy one liners and any hint at macho posturing fortuitously redundant. FX wise it is also fairly tame and light on the blood letting. When Nina switches to full on Siren mode there are some disconcerting background growls and her eyes change but that is all. There is a bit of violence and wound detail but only a little, just enough to hold interest. The soundtrack and compositions are very haunting and effective. Given that it’s cast is just 3 characters and the crew is miniscule they did a great job with this. It may be a bit misleading at first as you’re thinking you might be in for a bit of a jumpy one and sometimes it is a bit drawn out but it has a strong enough story and cast to follow through providing a different but credible movie.
Review by Sarah Budd