Sometimes I enjoy watching film fans freak out over the perceived shabby treatment their childhood favorite is being subjected to in rumors of remaking and re-imagining, and I’d like to thank each and every one of you who take to the internet to voice your displeasure every time a bizarrely-well-regarded sacred cow is presented for a face-lift. Your indignant squealing makes my life a little more bearable and I’m a little (just a little) ashamed to admit to the precise level of petty pleasure I take in your pain.
The current trend of turning every animated Disney hit into a “live-action” spectacle is one I’ll confess mixed reactions of my own over though. I’m not upset over casting rumors, gender-flipping, race-mixing or technologically updated methodology. No, what gets me a little frothy is the consistent failure to re-imagine the musical cartoon fantasies as creepy-ass musical horror.
For instance this new Little Mermaid movie can go fuck right off. I mean it’s already had an amazing live-action remake that was a creepy-ass horror musical this decade and y’all need to just pump the brakes on this cycle of cinematic gentrification and let people catch the fuck up with Agnieszka Smoczynska’s THE LURE.
Okay, it’s not a straight up remake. Hans Christian Anderson ain’t credited anywhere, but it is about a pair of mermaid sisters drawn to over the sea life by the sounds of human singing. Silver and Gold (Marta Mazurek and Michalina Olszanska respectively) ditch their scales ‘n tails for stems and outfits and a gig backing and eventually fronting the house band at a sleazy Warsaw nightclub where their cabaret/striptease act thrills the locals.
Silver is taken with humans and their culture while Golden is reservedly amused and then, like any good sister would be, concerned and alarmed for her sister when Silver falls in love with the bass player (Jakub Gierszal). Silver’s love for the musician is rejected – he is intrigued by her, but makes it clear she’ll always be a fish to him, even after she goes through a gruesome tail-ectomy – and he eventually decides to settle down with one of his own kind, but Golden’s love for her sister is for me the heart of the film.
Golden never forgets and never apologizes for what she is – an alpha predator living amongst food. She doesn’t stop hunting, she toys with the police investigating her bloody crimes and she takes the debasements of her sister very, very seriously.
But what about the tunes?
The music never stops in this film. It begins with an acoustic-ballad/siren-song duet on the beach, and almost immediately plunges into striptease-cabaret disco numbers of the house band that the sisters join, called Figs ‘N Dates, then progresses into the gothic-disco stylings of Mermaid-fronted The Lure, before exploring the raw-aggression of Marcin Kowalczyk’s Tryton-headed punk band that Golden sings with one night.
THE LURE also features the kind of spontaneous bursting into song and dance that fans of traditional musicals can enjoy, but make no mistake, it is a monster movie with an underlying ferocity, which the shimmery pop music and pretty pretty visuals could tempt you to forget about, until it’s ripping out your throat.
Featuring a killer soundtrack, ample and unsettling sexuality plus tons of cheeky touches (the lady detective who wants to nail Golden for murder is introduced wearing fish-net stockings!) THE LURE is the only Little Mermaid remake that matters. Now if we could get a musical horror comedy version of Sleeping Beauty with a slapstick WEEKEND AT BERNIE’S type centerpiece.