Fantastic Fest Review: The Lure

This all-singing, all-dancing Polish mermaid film has teeth

A gloriously genre-defying mashup of melodrama, romance, musical, and cultural subtext masquerading as a horror film, The Lure is utterly original and alluring even as director Agnieszka Smoczynska puts the ghastly in fishnets.

The piscine sisters of The Lure are definitely not BFFs with fellow submarine belter Ariel, but they sure do a number on the seaside village where they wash up. Silver (Marta Mazurek) and Golden (Michalina Olszanska) spot a handsome blonde bass player, Mietek (Jakub Gierszal), crooning on shore, sparking the initially carnivorous pair to take human form and follow the music to a local cabaret run by Mietek’s family, including a father-cum-showrunner (Zygmunt Malanowicz) and aging chanteuse mom (Kinga Preis). Attractive, young, and ostensibly human, the duo join the act, performing in the fishy buff while reclining in giant cocktail glasses. Naturally. As Golden topples further into dry-dock love with the bassist, Silver takes the low road and starts getting toothy. Villagers go missing, but the sirens’ song remains the same.

Written by Fantastic Fest alum Robert Bolesto (Hardkor Disko), this cinematic hybrid of the sensual and the sublime is like nothing you’re likely to see coming from our own shores anytime soon. Yes, it conforms – or maybe adapts – to the strictest tropes of the movie musical in that the songs are fantastic and arise organically from the story, but there’s more going on than meets the ear. A pervasive sense of melancholy, loss, and longing pervades both the predations of the sisters and the whole of the film itself. Smoczynska handles it all with death-sexy panache, aided and abetted in this superior catch by some drop dead sexy cinematography from Jakub Kijowski, and a boatload of seriously eye-popping setpieces. More, please.

The Lure screens again Tuesday, Sept. 27, 5:15pm.

Fantastic Fest 2016 runs Sept. 22-29 at the Alamo South Lamar. Tickets and info at, and follow our ongoing coverage at

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