If there’s anything better than a film about the horrors of puberty, it’s one that involves a terrifying transformation. Better yet when that transformation is of the mermaid variety. I don’t think there’s been a premise for a film more perfectly aligned to the Collab’s mission than this week’s title…except for perhaps every other mermaid horror we’ve featured.
Blue My Mind
As she grows up, teen Mia notices changes to her body a little less connected to puberty, a little more connected to merpeople.
Following a move, Swiss teenager Mia is forced to attend a new school midway through the year. Drawn to the group of students who seem to be having the most fun, Mia decides to work her way into the popular, rebellious crowd led by queen bee Gianna. A challenge as she’s not particularly cool or memorable in…anyone’s eyes, really.
At home, Mia exhibits increasingly volatile behavior, pushing her mother away literally and figuratively, and snacking on the fish in the family aquarium. When she earns a spot with the cool kids at last, Mia is introduced to a group of teens giggling about sex, winkingly setting up an online dating profile for her, and involving her with their autoerotic asphyxiation games.
Immediately after getting her period for the first time, Mia notices some extra strange symptoms, beginning with the newly formed webbing between her toes. Visiting the doctor’s office the next day, Mia learns that the webbing is a genetic birth defect, though it’s a recent development for her. When she returns home and snacks on more of the pet fish, Mia’s lie that she flushed the fish earns her the dismay of her parents.
While Mia begins to suspect she’s adopted and that something is horribly wrong with her, she becomes increasingly interested in hooking up with men. Though she scores a date with a much older man thanks to that dating profile her new friends created, Mia eventually pursues one of the popular crowd around her own age. Meanwhile, she seems to be mutually attracted to Gianna.
Feeling less and less in control as her body sprouts scales and becomes unrecognizable, Mia seems headed for a major, irreversible change.
3.5/5 Pink Panther Heads
This is a bit of an arthouse Mean Girls body horror with queer undertones–an excellent combination. We appreciate a mermaid horror always; Jordan Peele, please do your magic and make this the substantial horror subgenre it’s destined to be.
I appreciate that Mia isn’t always particularly likeable, and her angst makes her do quite a few mean-spirited and irresponsible things. She’s a teenager going through a terrifying time and largely being gaslit by the adults in her life; it makes sense that she’d act out.
It’s also quite powerful that it’s Mia’s connection to her newfound best friend Gianna that saves her (spoiler/not really a spoiler). Having someone to care about her and help her is necessary for Mia’s survival when it comes down to it. That being said, I would have liked for the film to be a bit more openly queer, as the Mia/Gianna relationship teases this but borders on queerbaiting.
Additionally, I wish Mia had the opportunity to have a little more fun with her mermaid status or at least bite some people in the style of some other mermaid horror we’ve enjoyed. Alas, a perpetual dream as most films don’t have nearly enough scenes of mermaids ripping out the throats of sketchy dudes.
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.
Posting ahem, Sunday night. It’s Sunday night somewhere, right??? No? Not even in Hawaii? Damn.
Where to Watch:
Best friends on a Mediterranean holiday end up fighting for their lives when a…KILLER MERMAID attacks.
The Uncondensed Version:
Killer Mermaid starts strong with a Moby Dick quote. Please, GOD, let this be the world’s most pretentious mermaid horror flick. There are also some incredibly dramatic shots of a shipwreck accompanied by music that almost sounds like some strange hybrid of the themes from X-Files and Jaws. This exists solely to create a mysterious atmosphere and contrast directly with the montage of a, ahem, “cute” couple enjoying their beach vacation. I already want them to die. This feeling intensifies because the accompanying music sounds like a Shakira rip-off and features lyrics such as “The sea is attractive like you in the sun.” Seriously.
So this couple is STILL enjoying the sun, being young, etc, and then not even 5 minutes in we see boobs. Like not even partially covered by strategically placed hair/arms, but straight up naked boobs. I wasn’t expecting that.
Our sickeningly smiley/happy half-naked couple is making out at night right by the sea which, as we are about to learn, is the worst idea.
Dude: Do you hear that?
Lady: Hear what?
Dude: Uh, that killer mermaid about to murder us?
Lady: Nope. Feel free to keep looking at my boobs, everyone.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, something emerges from the water and drags the dude into the sea. Yeah, it’s the mermaid. Meanwhile, someone approaches and kills the girl with a grappling hook, I think. This movie made me realize I have little to no experience with hook terminology, but I’m going with grappling hook. I really feel a harpoon or perhaps even an anchor would have been more appropriate, but I suppose when I make a mermaid horror movie, I can call the shots.
Now that we have a dramatic set up, we meet our protagonists, the Serious One with a 1940s Haircut and the Hot One Who Cannot Keep Her Shirt on. I had to Google their names because I could not for the life of me remember they are Kelly and Lucy, respectively. They arrive at whatever the hell Mediterranean country this is supposed to be to meet up with Lucy’s ex, Alex. You know, the one she’s completely over and not even remotely interested in. At all.
When he meets up with these two ladies, he brings his fiancée. Kelly is doing fine until she starts having flashbacks of her brother drowning at the age of 10. Ever since, she has been terrified of swimming. Then this crusty old man in a rowboat glares mysteriously at everyone, further pooping the party, as it were.
Still, it’s difficult to stop Americans from partying. When they arrive at Alex’s apartment, Lucy is suddenly wearing a plaid shirt and American flag booty shorts, aka PARTY ATTIRE. Alex’s fiancée kind of freaks out a little (a lot) because she’s jealous, and they all dance (WHAT).
The fiancée gets too drunk and pukes, Kelly goes for a walk, and Lucy makes out with Alex. Meanwhile, the grappling hook murderer strikes again.
The next day, our cozy little party goes to visit an abandoned army base; there’s also an abandoned prison they’d like to see later. Stellar ideas, all.
The crusty rowboat captain is watching as everyone goes for a swim except Kelly. Something suddenly grabs Yasmin as she’s swimming, but it turns out to be this weird guy named Bob. Naturally, Lucy invites him to join the group for dinner.
The only thing anyone wants to talk about is the island, Mamula, which was apparently like Alcatraz. (DON’T GO TO THE FUCKING ISLAND. JESUS CHRIST.) The crusty captain appears there (of course) and warns them not to go to Mamula because it’s drenched in blood and was apparently used by the Nazis in WWII (please, please be a Nazi mermaid). At this point, it occurred to me that this movie is basically an episode of Scooby-Doo but with boobs. So yeah…obviously they go to the island anyway, and it’s super gorgeous, killer mermaids aside.
They realize they’re not alone when they witness this dude pouring a bucket of blood into a well. He disappears, and upon further investigation, Kelly sees a mermaid at the bottom of the well. However, the man returns with a rifle and starts firing at the group. When they try to leave the island, they realize the gunman has shot their boat. Shortly thereafter, we are shocked, SHOCKED, to learn this guy is the grappling hook murderer.
I don’t really know how to summarize this part without stating the obvious, so I’m going to state the obvious. Everyone tries to run from the grappling hook murderer. Everyone except for Alex, who starts hearing the mermaid’s song and becomes obsessed with finding her. Incidentally, the mermaid’s song sounds a lot like whale song, so it should go without saying that it’s really sexy.
The group is eventually reunited except for Alex, who’s still freaking out over the mermaid. As everyone files out of the grappling hook killer’s quarters, said grappling hook killer returns and kills Alex’s fiancée, Yasmin. It takes everyone a significant amount of time to realize she’s gone, which is quite depressing, actually.
Bob almost gets hypnotized by the mermaid, but Kelly punches him to snap him out of it. Finally, the group comes face-to-face with the mermaid, as well as the grappling hook killer, which leads to an intense action-packed fight scene. Or, more accurately, a fight scene with a moderate amount of punching. The mermaid transforms into piranha face and drowns Lucy while Bob manages to subdue the grappling hook murderer. Oh, also, Alex is dead. (Does anyone really care?)
And then there were two. The crusty captain appears out of nowhere, and the three escape in his rowboat. I think this is actually fairly close to the actual plot of Scooby-Doo on Zombie Island. The only thing we’re missing are cat werewolves and zombies. Apparently the mermaid killed all of the captain’s men when they were working on a top-secret underground tunnel connect the island to the mainland. Except for the captain, obviously, and the first mate(lieutenant? I don’t remember what this guy’s rank was), aka the grappling hook killer. Only men can hear the siren song, which is pretty disappointing, honestly. I would really like a lesbian mermaid sequel to this (admittedly, I say that about every movie since Codependent Lesbian Space Alien).
So finally the mermaid catches up, which Kelly helpfully points out by repeatedly yelling “There she is!” and “Watch out!” In another action-packed sequence, the captain harpoons the mermaid, then the mermaid drowns Bob and goes after the crusty captain. Kelly leaps into the water and harpoons the mermaid. But it’s STILL not over because, even after being harpooned twice, the mermaid jumps out of the water to attack Kelly. Luckily, the crusty captain is prepared with a net, which abruptly stops the mermaid (?).
Pretty sure the captain quotes from Moby Dick and then stabs the mermaid. The grappling hook killer shows up to mourn the mermaid’s death. Then the captain just kind of goes off on this dramatic monologue. Some have escaped from the mermaid song, but from their silence, never. (What?) The mermaid’s sisters are coming for vengeance. You shouldn’t fear death because living as a hypnotized mermaid slave is worse than death. “Maybe we’ll die, but we’ll kill those monsters one by one…starting with YOU.” [Kills grappling hook murderer]
I enjoyed this movie, admittedly often more in a laughing at you rather than with you kind of way. As long as I remembered that this is essentially a Scooby-Doo special, everything was ok. There was a group of young people who totally failed to heed the warnings of a random creep. As in Scooby-Doo on Zombie Island, the group rather stupidly interrupted a kind of blood sacrifice on an island from which they could not escape. And there were even zombies! Excuse me while I go re-watch allllllll of the 1990s Scooby-Doo movies.
Biggest takeaway here, loath as I am to admit it: sometimes you should listen to that crusty old guy who refuses to stop giving you nonsensical advice that seemingly doesn’t apply to your situation at all. You heard me—sometimes the Baby Boomers are right.