I think this may be the first Polish film of the blog collab? Don’t quote me on that. Either way, this is our second outing into killer mermaid features, and it’s pretty safe to say there’s no movie quite like this one in any language.
The Lure (Córki Dancingu)
This loose modernization of Hans Christian Andersen’s “Little Mermaid” features much more gore, cabaret numbers, and fangs than most adaptations.
The Uncondensed Version:
Silver and Golden are two teenage girls who have run away from home to experience life in the big city (Warsaw) and end up performing in a cabaret. Important details: their home is the ocean, they are sirens whose tails reappear whenever they come into contact with water, and they subsist at least partially on human flesh. They also don’t have female genitalia when they’re in human form, ruling out the possibility of a fully nude number for the two.
None of this information is especially critical to the staff and owner of the cabaret as they quickly recognize the novelty (and profit) of a siren sister duet…in a cabaret conveniently called The Lure (except in Polish). Krysia, the lead singer at the cabaret and recruiter of this new talent, brings the sisters into her family in part to help…and in part to pocket their salary.
Since our story pivots around the cabaret, there are many musical numbers that flow seamlessly into the narrative. The song transition is never jarring, and they almost always work in conjunction with the plot for added poignancy and drama (I have to admit, there were some that were a bit too surreal for me to follow. More on that later).
Silver and Golden decide they have a pretty good thing going and telepathically agree to stick around for a while before swimming on, though with strikingly divergent motives—Silver has taken a shine to a young bassist at the cabaret, Mietek, while Golden’s sights are aimed in a much more sinister direction.
Golden thirsts for blood and begins picking up any willing victim she can to devour. She is also intrigued by a man with horrible scars who’s going for a distinctly Ozzy Osbourne vibe…and like our main girls, seems to be something not entirely human.
Silver, on the other hand, is content to spend time with Mietek, even when he’s not especially jazzed to be associated with her. He flat-out tells Silver she’ll always be a fish to him first, but this doesn’t deter her. Neither sister approves of the other’s pursuits, but they both take a live and let live approach until it’s too late.
Finally, the bodies pile up to the degree that people start paying attention—namely, Krysia and the cabaret “family” who lives with her. Suspecting Silver and Golden, the humans take matters into their own hands. You know it’s a fucking terrible idea to face off against bloodthirsty sirens with fangs and the power to hypnotize, so this doesn’t end especially well for some of them.
It just gets crazier as Silver undergoes dramatic surgery to finally have legs and live happily ever after with her man, Golden is draw more and more to the Ozzy wannabe and the other land-dwelling sea creatures, and the dark mythology of Hans Christian Andersen’s tale takes shape.
4.5/5 Pink Panther Heads
The film itself can be messy and confusing at times, which is just amplified by some of the bizarre song choices and (mis)translations (there’s a song that is translated to include multiple uses of the word “y’all,” which just feels out of place). Case in point = a song performed by a nurse who dances around the dazed members of Krysia’s household while hooking them up to an IV drip. What.
But all complaints are minor. Even though following the plot sequentially is virtually impossible, the film is still completely mesmerizing. The visuals are absolutely gorgeous, our two leads are deeply amoral and fascinating to watch, and the social commentary feels so relevant. This fits nicely in with the magic realist tradition of weaving a fantasy seamlessly into an ordinary situation with a purpose—among other things, the commodification of abnormal bodies, voyeuristic tendencies towards young women and teens, and the impossibility of conforming to the supposedly ideal body type.
I’m reminded of elements of A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night–amoral, non-human women in a shady part of town dispensing their own version of justice…or reigning horror down upon any unlucky enough to cross their path.
Word of caution: this is exceptionally gory, especially some surgical scenes that made me feel very squeamish. And I think you know by now how frequently gory madness adds fuel to the fire of this blog collab.