Updated: Mar 12, 2020
Review by Kelly
“In Warsaw, a pair of mermaid sisters are adopted into a cabaret. While one seeks love with humans the other hungers to dine on the human population of the city.”
When it came time to narrow down ideas for movie reviews for cannibal month, I decided to go with a less obvious choice, The Lure. I knew very little about it besides it containing man eating mermaids. I definitely didn’t expect what the movie turned out to be, but more on that later.
Also known as Córki dancingu, The Lure is a Polish film directed by Agnieszka Smoczyńska. The Lure is high on the fantasy than it is horror but the horror community has come to embrace it as it’s own. It’s about two young sister mermaids, Silver and Golden, who come onto land after mesmerizing a young man and get jobs performing at a local nightclub. Their voices charm everyone who hears them, and their allure is intoxicating. Silver falls in love with that young man, but in order to fully embrace this love, she has to gain legs and lose her voice. She has to forgo being a mermaid and become 100% human. And if he marries another, she will turn into literal sea foam. You can probably already guess how the movie ends.
There is a wonderful current trend of female cannibals in horror, with the biggest hit being Santa Clarita Diet. In her article, Why Female Cannibals Frighten and Fascinate: The danger and appeal of the insatiable woman in Raw, Santa Clarita Diet, and The Lure, Kate Robertston describes the women in this trend as “ They’re motivated by physical hunger but also by sexual desire, making them an extension of the femme fatale—the beautiful woman who deceives and ensnares men.” These women go against social norms by embracing their feminine power and sexuality. They exude confidence and a true hunger for life, love, and sex. Cannibalism makes them “dangerous women”. The comment in the article on eating and hunger is interesting since women are expected not to gorge on food but to be light eaters, especially in the company of men, so these female cannibals are breaking these unspoken expectations placed upon them. You can see this more so with the more rebellious sister, Golden, as she desires to retain her mermaid identity through her acts of cannibalism as she tears into the flesh of humans without remorse, while Silver wants to become human and live among them because she is falling in love for the first time.
One of the things that disturbed me was Silver’s journey throughout The Lure. Although she chooses to live among humans and become one, it’s predicated on terrible patriarchal, manipulative means. Early in her relationship with Mietek he states that “I will always think of you as an animal.” Instead of loving Silver for who she is and embracing her identity as a mermaid, he denigrates her, only thinking highly of her if she becomes a human. Meaning, she has to remove her tail and get human sexual parts. Silver eventually goes forward with the procedure but what makes this disgusting manipulation come full circle is that she doesn’t even develop her own sexual anatomy, but that of a dead girl and she loses her voice. Silver loses most of the aspects of what makes her unique. This may look like bodily autonomy on the surface but underneath its male domination.
In case you didn’t know, The Lure is a musical! One of my least favourite genres are musicals so this was a challenging movie to get through. I have only enjoyed a few musicals in my time and two of them are Joss Whedon related. Though I like synth music, the music in The Lure is too saccharine for my tastes. It is full of European eccentricities and normally I find that charming, but this time around I didn’t enjoy it much. The acting wasn’t great despite the singing being fantastic. It’s very light on the horror with very few bloody deaths.
Overall, I found The Lure to be pure exploitation. Silver and Golden are completely sexualized; not only by everyone they meet but also by the camera. Everyone wants to have sex with them, and leer at their bodies. At one point, I kid you not, they are doing a sexy photoshoot as mermaids but they are wearing bunny ears (???) and actual FISH NETS on their tails. The irony wasn’t lost on me.
As interesting as the themes may be in The Lure, it completely lost me. Not only as a musical but with its lack of pure feminine energy. It’s a trashy exploitation film wrapped in shiny, lip pouting gloss.
I would recommend avoiding this one unless you're into musicals, but I know you aren’t.