'The Lure': Just Your Average 80s Infused, Gothic Horror Musical With Vampire Mermaids [Sundance Review]

When you're at the Sundance Film Festival, there are a lot of tropes that you get used to. Estranged family, loved one dying of cancer, coming of age romance, and comedy actors looking to show that they can be dramatic too. But sometimes you get something absolutely bonkers that doesn't have any of those things. That something is The Lure.

Hailing from Poland, the film from director Agnieszka Smoczynska is full of style, and it will undoubtedly be the best Polish rock musical with bloodthirsty sirens you'll ever see, but that's mostly because it's the only one of its kind. Read on for The Lure review from Sundance.

The Lure follows two mermaid sisters, Silver (Marta Mazurek) and Golden (Michalina Olszanska), who stumble upon a family of musicians. Using their siren song, they convince the band to bring them to shore where the night club owner takes a particular interest in them being part of their adult entertainment, even if their lack of normal female genitals and an anus makes them a little different. Oh, and these mermaids lose their tail if they're out of water for too long and sprout legs. But their tails come back with just a splash of water.

Anyway, the two get caught up in the busy city and exciting night life, essentially become local rock stars, singing, stripping and showing off their tails. But complications arise when Silver falls for the shaggy blonde son in the dysfucnctional family band and desires to stay on land with him, even willing to get surgery to remove her tail for good, though it will cost her voice. Golden, on the other hand, isn't looking for love, but just blood here and there, staying true to her vampire roots.

The Lure

Keep in mind that all of this unfolds with full musical numbers, complete with choreographed dancing and original songs. The songs are hypnotic and keep your foot-tapping, even if the lyrics are a bit strange in translation to English from Polish. However, it's all a little bombastic, overshadowing any real meaning that the film holds in its core.

The Lure has admirable metaphors for immigration, transphobia and female empowerment. Some are more subtle than others, but they all end up buried under the overwhelming style of the movie. Strange tangents are made for provocative musical numbers, and the film never really comes together in a way that makes a profound impact.

However, one must give Smoczynska credit for knowing how to shoot a gorgeous film that is sexy, creepy and just the right amount of weird to keep your attention, even if you don't know why. Each musical break plays out like a surreal 80s music video that only played on an obscure public access channel at 2am, and the soundtrack is pretty killer. I've never seen a film like this at Sundance, and probably can't imagine there will ever be another one like it again.

/Film Rating: 5 out of 10