The Lure (original title: Córki Dancingu) is a 2015 Polish film best described as a fantasy horror musical. A loose adaptation of The Little Mermaid by Hans Christian Andersen, it follows two mermaids sisters named Silver and Golden who leave the water and find themselves in an slightly skewed version of 1980’s Poland, surrounded by neon lights, thumping synth beats, and oddball characters. From there, the two are recruited to work as singers and dancers at a strip club, where they become instant hits with their gross fish tails. Things go wrong quickly, as both sisters become infatuated with male humans. One, Silver, falls in love with a floppy-haired bassist, the other, Golden, unleashes the more horrific side of mermaid lore and starts eating men’s hearts (literally).
Its musical numbers range from ethereal aquatic chants, to choreographed and bright camp ballads, to smoky strip-club synth performances, by way of hard rock, punk, and dance.
Jack says: From Poland, Agnieszka Smoczyńska’s 2015 horror-fantasy musical about two monstrous mermaid strippers defies traditional explanation. It also eschews ordinary ideas of plot too, making it a film that just has to be experienced, if perhaps not fully understood. ‘The Lure’ is a feast for the eyes and ears – even if the brain is still struggling to keep up.
Drenched in neon like a 1980 fugue state, the film draws a pretty direct comparison between the girl’s magical transformations and their blossoming womanhood – the appearance of the tails are greeted with weird smells and fluids and confusion over their strange bodies. The creepy, gropey attention of the men that surround them mirrors the dangerous views society has around women at this all-important stage, as they’re trying to figure things out.
The practical effects are outstanding, which every wet thud of the tail making me feel a little queasy – these aren’t the beautiful mermaids of lore, these more resemble big slugs. I think the musical numbers are great too, though it’s difficult to understand them quite as much when you have to read the lyrics as subtitles. I’ve listened to the soundtrack a few times on Spotify since, and I appreciate it much more just hearing it and not thinking about lyrics.
The film is a little too obtuse for its own good at times, and feels like a debut effort in the plot department too – often spending way too long on unimportant things, but skimming really crucial events. However, visually it’s gorgeous and nightmarish, with lashings of really nasty body horror and gore. And as an exploration into female sexuality and that often disastrous change from child to adult, it’s masterful.
Becca says: I don’t know a lot about mermaids – what I do know comes from Pirates of The Caribbean 4 and The Little Mermaid, so its probably not up-to-scratch. I feel this affected my enjoyment of this film, like it wanted me to know more lore (heh, ‘lure lore’). Perhaps mermaids are a big thing in Poland? Either way, I was left feeling a little lost and scraping by with my knowledge.
However, I think mermaids is a great setting for a musical! They’re all about singing. Why hasn’t this been done before? As for /this/ take, it was the sort of musical where the songs were “normal songs”, not really theatrical and over-the-top, which isn’t what I look for in a musical. Saying that, they were all sung well, the translated lyrics were good, and they fit the plot well. I did feel, at times, like they would have been more organic and deep in their original language. I may have to ask a Polish friend of mine to watch it to see what she thinks!
I enjoyed the conflict between the two sisters as one submits to the darker side of her nature while the other falls deeper and deeper in love. The medical scene was also a pretty cool concept – you’ll know the one I mean!
Overall, I can say I enjoyed it as a film, but as a musical I wasn’t keen. Then again, I am a Disney and stage sort of gal!