Review: The Lure
The national cinema of Poland has not been home to many significant musicals or horror films over the past several years, which is why first-time filmmaker Agnieszka Smoczynska's The Lure should be considered a major exception - as it combines the genres together to produce and end result which is truly remarkable.
If that didn't get your attention, it's about disco-loving bloodthirsty teenage mermaids who become a nightclub sensation.
The Lure (Polish title: Córki dancingu or "The Daughters of the Dance") is set in the 1980s and follows Golden (Michalina Olszańska) and Silver (Marta Mazurek), two mermaids who enchant a struggling rock band with their siren call and end up leaving their underwater home. In no time at all, they become backup singers for the band, attracting a lot of audience adoration in the process and eventually stealing the spotlight for themselves.
The narrative certainly goes to some strange places, especially throughout the second half where the musical element takes a backseat to the body horror elements (of which there is surprisingly a lot of). While the plot can be baffling at times, credit has to be given to the sheer amount of musical performances that feature throughout - each in their own way taking influence from the period setting while also being used to convey expositional information. These sequences are the best part about The Lure, full of energy, color, and most of all, feeling. It does what a good musical should - keeping you spellbound to the point of bopping your head or tapping your feet, and anticipating what spectacular number is going to come next.
The way it combines the musical and horror genres seems irreverent from a glance, but the most surprising thing about the film is how well these aspects blend together to create a truly remarkable piece of work. Conflict arises between the two mermaids when one falls for the bass player of the band (Jakub Gierszal), while the other is more focused on her primal instincts of feeding on humans - leading to some truly gross-out moments with a hint of tragedy.
Being Smoczynska's feature film debut, it does not feel like the work of a first-timer; especially due to the multiple elaborate setpieces. But most of all, underneath the glitzy spectacle, there is an interesting coming-of-age story to be found from the main characters - one which was partially based on Smoczynska's own adolescence (and cribbing slightly from Hans Christian Andersen's The Little Mermaid).
I have to give thanks to Janus Films for picking up The Lure for U.S. distribution and allowing it to be seen by American audiences, as it is a phenomenal musical worthy of seeing with a packed crowd. While certainly a surreal ride, it's a true work of art and a must-watch for anyone that's looking to see a recent musical that's out of the ordinary (especially if you saw La La Land and thought it was too bland). It receives my highest recommendation, as I doubt you'll see anything else like it all year.