By Andrew Buckner
Rating: ****1/2 out of *****.
The Lure (2015), a horror/ musical based on Hans Christian Anderson’s “The Little Mermaid” (1837), is one of the most unique, imaginative, surreal and visually spectacular films I have seen in years. Jakob Kijowski’s cinematography is gorgeous, the writing and direction (from Robert Bolesto and Agnieska Smoczynska respectively) are beautifully done and Marcin Charlicki’s effects are credible and superb. Congruently, the acting is stellar. Michalina Olszanska and Marta Mazurek as our heroines, Zlota and Srebrna, are especially good. Moreover, the nearly wall to wall songs, and dance numbers that accompany them, are lively and emotive. Likewise, the moments of terror are memorable and effective. The non-linear storytelling, as well as its constant contrasts in cheery and ominous mood, only helps add a deeper sense of unpredictability, drama, poetry and art house allure to the proceedings. Additionally, the touches of love narrative and same treated, often darkly comedic elements are handled in a proficient and spectacularly blended fashion. It is in a manner that never takes away from the true focal point of the fiction: the bond of Zlota and Srebrna. Correspondingly, these cinematic components are anything but formulaic. Such only makes this production, originally titled Corki dancingu (Daughters of the Dance Club), increasingly layered.
The result is an awe-inspiring, ardent and breezily paced ninety-two- minute stroke of excellence. This is a consistently hypnotic endeavor. It is one that seems to take as many cues from Jim Sharman’s The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975) as it does any number of grindhouse flicks from that era. Smockzynska’s feature length debut masterpiece, which concerns a pair of sea nymphs who find themselves working in an adult night club in Poland in the 1980’s, is as toe-tapping and, at times, head-banging as it is brilliant. From beginning to grisly and smirk-inducing end, this is one continually soaring, high-note of cinematic exhilaration. For those who claim there is little originality left in the genre, I strongly urge you to seek this one out.
Available now on demand and on DVD and Blu-ray.
Distributed in the USA by Janus Films.
(Unrated). Contains nudity, some graphic violence, sexuality and adult themes.