I am fond of picking up the season schedule for a local small theater, as the schedules are normally distributed around my campus center and dining halls. Normally I look at the schedule, lament that I won’t be able to see a movie (normally the schedules are distributed about a month late, so you end up missing any of the films in the first advertised month), then place it on my desk until I decide to recycle it weeks later; however, something caught my eye this time: a black and white picture of a mermaid in a bath tub, her arms and tail hanging out the sides. Intrigued, I looked into the pamphlet for the picture's origin, and then found out about the movie The Lure, a Polish musical comedy horror with mermaids. For lack of a better word, I was caught, hook, line and sinker. I spent the following week trying to get some friends to come with me to view this film. I sent links to the trailer to all of my friends and posted it on the Twenty-two Twenty-eight Facebook page. I went this past Saturday with two of my friends who were daring enough to come with me, and the movie did not disappoint.
The Lure, or Córki Dansingu, follows two mermaid sisters, Gold and Silver, as they wash onto 1980s Poland; there, they become singers at a nightclub in Warsaw. While one sister begins to hunt the citizens of the city, the other falls in love with a human man. Director Agnieska Smoczyńska makes this story shine with wonderful musical numbers, fascinating characters, and a unique aesthetic that is a treat for the eyes. The film does a great job of walking the line of fantasy and reality, creating a surreal line that heightens the movie-watching experience. Normally, one of my biggest pet peeves in musicals is that my suspension of disbelief is broken whenever every single person in a scene just breaks into song and dance, especially in a public place like a highway (see La La Land). Most of The Lure’s numbers make perfect sense in any world, as the mermaids and their band are nightclub singers. However, when that dancing bug does seem to infect the entirety of the population in the movie, my suspension isn’t broken. Only one number would fall under that potential to breach that potential suspension of disbelief, but it also happens to have my favorite song of the entire film.
Where The Lure shines most is its music. The band Ballady i Romanse (also a sister-sister group) wrote and composed the music within the film and worked closely with the script writer, giving each song a heightened sense of continuity and meaning. According to an interview with the director, the movie was based on the life of the band, for they grew up in a dance club in the 80s (the presence of mermaids acted as a kind of mask so that they wouldn’t feel too exposed). Each song feels thematically and aesthetically coercive as well as just being a treat to listen to. I strongly recommend watching the music video for “Przyszlam do miasta”, one of the most popular numbers of the musical (Below is a link to the Ballady i Romanse music video. I strongly recommend giving it a listen). From the effects to the choreography, the visuals are also just amazing. The mermaid tails feel realistic and give a visceral touch to The Lure's surreal world. The lighting is either dark or washed out, giving a sense of seductive despair that pervades most of the film. Watching the sisters live and interact with the nightclub scene in 80s Poland becomes all the more enjoyable with the music and art direction.
Even though I thoroughly enjoyed The Lure from beginning to end, I understand that this movie isn’t for everyone. While the movie was not rated, there is a good lot of female nudity, especially in the beginning. Depending on a person’s comfort level with the female form, I may hesitate to recommend it (I didn’t have a big problem, though I would probably be embarrassed if my mom was watching it next to me). I am pleased to say, however, that when it comes to the horror aspect, there was not as much gore as I had expected (I have a weak stomach, so I’m not the biggest fan of gore on screen). There was only one scene in which I had to cover my eyes with my “security scarf”, which is saying a lot. My only other problem was that I got the feeling that the movie would not have ended the way it did if it weren’t for a bit of communication on everyone’s part during the movie (especially between two certain characters; I won’t go into spoiler territory, but I felt as if the conflict could have been dealt with differently). Maybe the ending would not have changed, but one of the biggest pet peeves I have within movies is when people do not communicate in movies when conflict could be solved more easily if they had (unless it’s a comedy in which that’s part of the joke, like Much Ado about Nothing). However, I only realized that the problems after thinking more deeply about the movie hours later. Overall, I strongly recommend this movie to anyone who would enjoy a fantastically foreign musical that is uniquely its own. I am sure I will be picking up a DVD copy once it hits the United States. While the movie came out in Poland in 2015, The Lure hit the United States box office last month. Be sure to check out your local small artsy theater schedule; The Lure was surely a treat to watch on the big screen.