Poland | 2015 | 92 minutes | Color | In Polish with English subtitles
Opens on Feb. 1 in NY at the IFC Center
2016 OFFICIAL SELECTION: Sundance Film Festival – Fantastic Fest – Fantasia IFF – AFI Fest
Posted by – Matt Mungle
As you read the critic’s coverage of THE LURE you see words like “Stunning. Outrageous. Original. Arresting. Ominous” and all of these are perfect descriptions of Director Agnieszka Smoczynska’s new horror/comedy. If I had to add any it would be visually mesmerizing. Like most off-beat thrillers it will not be to everyone’s taste but genre lovers will find this one near perfect.
The film takes place in 1980’s Poland and follows the on-land adventure of two carnivorous mermaids, Silver (Marta Mazurek) and Golden (Michalina Olszanska). The Sirens take a job in a Warsaw Nightclub that looks, sounds, and probably smells a lot like Cabaret. When Silver falls for one of the local musicians (Jakub Gierszal) it does not sit well with her sister Golden – who would rather eat them than date them. Golden worries that her sister’s love for this human will thwart their main goal which is to swim to a new life in America.
Even if the main characters had not been mermaids this would still have been a fun watch. Marta and Michalina both give us roles that are quirky and sexy. They behave like any two sisters would who are caught in a sibling rivalry of motivation. The nightclub workers and patrons also add some spice to the script. There is a lot of jealousy among the women and the men are trying hard not to be lured by the siren’s call. So again it would have worked fine had Silver and Golden simply been two wandering waifs on a journey to America. Making them mermaids just elevates the style and offers more opportunity for weird.
Agnieszka said this about her story, “The Lure is a genre hybrid: a love story, a musical, and a fantasy-horror reverie—in other words, an adult fairy tale. I was inspired by the kitschy world of big dance-hall parties from the Communist era, which came to a close when I was twelve years old.”
The styling of the film is fantastic. The color, set design and aesthetics make it feel nostalgic. The nightclub transports you back in time. The nightclub scenes in The Lure were filmed on location at the abandoned Club Adria in Warsaw, where the Wrońska sisters’ parents frequently performed. The Adria had been shuttered for years until Agnieszka Smoczyńska and her crew got permission to film there.
Also the makeup and effects are solid additions. Most of the time the sisters are in human form but just add water and you get these beautiful if not fearsome extensions as their torso’s manifest into the other creatures. The attention to detail makes these tails powerful and naturally organic. The tails that the actors wear are actual physical models, each weighing more than sixty pounds, with pedals that initiated the movement. “Our tails had to be different, monstrous, for them to give the impression that this beautiful girl is half beast,” says Smoczyńska. “Without a practical model it would have been impossible.”
THE LURE is not rated but most certainly an adult film. The language, passionate romps, and gory moments are intended for mature audiences. Plus mermaids aren’t used to clothing so there are quite a few topless moments. I wasn’t sure what to expect from this film. I almost anticipated cliche horror moments delivered by fishy vixens. But there are several layers to the movie which make it a tad more.