Hands down the greatest vampire mermaid musical fairy tale ever made. Before their Disneyfication, mermaids were feared hybrid fish-women who lured men to a watery grave. So it’s refreshingly welcome to see a filmmaker transpose the muddy sexism of the Little Mermaid to the sleazily decadent clubs of Warsaw in the 80s, returning the sweet mermaid to ferocious man-eater in one of the most entertaining and utterly bat-shit feature debuts in a very long time.
Slithering across the screen like some intoxicating sexy fusion of 80s cult hits Café Flesh, Splash and The Hunger, The Lure tells the seductive tale of mermaid sisters and the ill-starred sequence of events when one of them falls hard for a striking 20-something earthbound musician. Before long the sisters are flopping around in the back room of a kitschy discotheque in front of an owner who sees dollar signs in their exotic form and heavenly voices.
Wrapped up in the oh-so-thin veneer of Hans Christian Andersen’s fable, this bloody and naked cult miasma features wild musical numbers that are like escapees from Eurovision’s vaults, ranging from Donna Summer covers to original new wave and electro-punk tracks. The sultry sirens become huge draws at the club until hidden desires and strained familial bonds propel the film from absurd laughs to queasy body horror. There are some fully committed performances in this X-rated fishy tale but none more so than that of Michalina Olszańska, who radiates such amphibious sexuality onscreen that it’s easy to believe her bewitching allure is the real deal. — AT