Movie Review: SiREN
Director: Gregg Bishop
Writers: David Bruckner (based on characters created by), David Bruckner (original screenplay: Amateur Night)
Starring: Hannah Fierman, Chase Williamson, Justin Welborn, Hayes Mercure, Michael Aaron Milligan, Randy McDowell, Lindsey Garrett, Brittany S. Hall
Having never been on a Stag night, I cannot vouch for the reality, but hopefully it is more mundane than films or TV shows would have us believe. In the movies, Stag events are usually an excuse for chaps to behave like troglodytes and indulge in antics which result in the night not ending well for anyone.
In SiREN, the Stag night again proves to be less than a fun evening. It is a feature-length adaptation expanded from the segment ‘Amateur Night’ which appeared in the 2012 horror anthology V/H/S.
Jonah (Chase Williamson) a rather decent fellow, is due to marry his beloved fiancée, Eva (Lindsay Garrett) but first, Jonah and his nice-ish groomsmen (Hayes Mercure and Randy McDowell) must be subjected to the typical outing involving lap dancing clubs, drinking and drugs, by his boorish older brother Mac (Michael Aaron Milligan).
When the first strip club turns out to be a bit too tame for Mac’s expectations, he takes the bait from a shady individual who promises that he can take them to a ‘really wild' underground club - a place where his lurid dreams will be realised.
Mac insists that the group follow the dodgy character to a secluded location. The underground club they enter has a distinctly unsavoury atmosphere and includes merciless whippings and drinks containing wriggling leeches.
The guys are introduced to the club’s operator and resident occult expert Mr. Nyx (a larger-than-life Justin Welborn) who has a strange request for payment in return for the evening’s entertainment.
Once payment is given, Mr. Nyx promises Jonah an unusual treat – a peep-show at the door of one of the back rooms in the labyrinthine corridors of the venue. Through the glass, Jonah is mesmerised by the appearance and dream-inducing song of the titular ‘Siren’ that Nyx has named Lily (Hannah Fierman, reprising her role from the V/H/S short 'Amateur Night').
After the song and the erotic hallucinations have subsided, nice guy Johan is horrified to find that the girl is padlocked into the cell-like room. Thanks to his brother's lust for illicit thrills, Jonah unwittingly unleashes something dangerous and uncanny because of an act he perceives as a rescue.
The stag evening becomes a savage fight for survival when a vengeful Lily gets loose and creature-feature fans will feel satisfied with a good dose of the carnage which follows.
The monster make-up and effects used on Fierman are effective, but director Bishop and writer Bruckner also expand Lily’s character, endowing her with more nuance than in Amateur Night. She is undoubtedly monstrous, but also succeeds in displaying a level of loneliness and vulnerability. This is well realised by Hannah Fierman, whose huge, brown eyes can switch from heartbreakingly uncomprehending to enraged and murderous.
Johan the groom gets her attention, partly due to the very attribute of decency that he displays. (Who says that all girls like a bad boy? Take it from me - they don't - particularly the interesting ones). Lily’s search for solace from her solitary existence results in an unexpected, though still deadly, connection to Jonah. Unfortunately for him, her monstrous nature makes her a relentless pursuer, and her amorous attentions result in some ‘uncomfortable’ and unwanted encounters.
On the trail of the guys is the ever-entertaining Mr. Nyx, who will go to violent lengths and utilise all means at his disposal to retrieve his prize attraction and to teach the boys a lesson (and yes, I was ready to see big bro' Mac get bloodily dispatched from the first moment he opened his mouth).
Inventively expanding on the inspiration of the short on which it is based, SiREN is a much more satisfying experience than initially expected, offering a quirky occult world of supernatural oddity. Within the confines of what SiREN sets out to do, It remains entertaining and cohesive in its tone.
The narrative is dealing with fable and dark folk tale, and delves again into a favourite horror subject – the primal fear the male has of the alien and voracious female - but is not much to do with the legendary Sirens of the Greek epic. This is a reworking of the female creature for another, more modern fictive purpose. However, one must admit, it's still amazing what a naked female can do by just warbling a bit of a tune - but then again, take a look at the pop charts...
Ren Zelen | Twitter: @RenZelen