September 21, 2018 Mermaid’s Song (Movie Review)
This is no Disney tale, no: this Horror injected new take on Hans Christian Andersen’s classic The Little Mermaid, Mermaid’s Song, arrived to Digital on Tuesday, September 18, 2018, thanks to the good folks at Wild Eye Releasing.
Set in the 1930s Dust Bowl, Mermaid’s Song begins with Serena (Natasha Quirke: When Calls the Heart series, Imposters series), a beautiful siren who has given up her tail in the name of love. In a nondescript farmhouse, she performs tame Cabaret-style shows nightly, with her husband, George (Brendan Taylor: The Arrangement series, The Magicians series), manning the bar and running the business. They do this for their family’s livelihood, particularly to keep afloat for their adorable little girl, Charlotte (Sarah Boey: Horns 2013, Wayward Pines series).
After the tragic loss of Serena and as the years pass, the family business begins to fail, and George is facing serious financial troubles, including foreclosure. Enter into the picture mysterious loan shark Randall (Iwan Rheon: Misfits series, Game of Thrones series), who makes George an offer that he seemingly cannot resist.
Unfortunately, it changes the family business drastically, leaving the ladies – Emily (Jessie Fraser: The Man in the High Castle series, Zoo series); Patricia (Kallie Jean Sorensen: Singularity Principle 2013, Time Heals No Wounds short 2018); Beatrice (Leala Selina: iZombie series, Adventures of a Pizza Guy 2015); Sophia (Casey Strandquist: Behind the Silence short 2015, Qualia short 2016); Harriet (Stephanie Dyck: The Scarf 2009, Glass 2015) – to become little more than strippers-turned-whores.
Now a teenager, Charlotte (Katelyn Mager: Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters 2013, When Calls the Heart series) is struggling between her own curiosity, trying to understand the fairy tales that her grandmother Gertrude (Barbara Wallace: The Flash series, Riverdale series) continually feeds her, and doing what is best for her family. But what if there truly is a price to pay for her mother’s departure from the sea?
Clocking in at 88 minutes in-length, Mermaid’s Song – which was originally entitled Charlotte’s Song – was directed by Nicholas Humphries (The One That Got Away short 2007, Riese series) and was written by Bob Woolsey (Bob & Andrew series, The Watcher short 2018), Meagan Hotz (The Jabberwock short 2012, Abduction of Angie 2017), and Lindsey Mann. The film also features Steve Bradley (Black Mountain Side 2014, White Raven 2015) as Tim, and Trevor Gemma (The Little Mermaid short 2011, Crypt Fables series) as Harold.
First thing’s first, despite its billing as Horror, Mermaid’s Song reads more like a Period Drama with some superbly minor fairy tale elements. Which basically means that this is a story about a family in dire financial straits, indebted to a slimy loan shark who wheels and deals in whiskey and women. Yes, Charlotte is a mermaid, and yes, her mother made a deal to escape the sea and be with her true love, but that all amounts to rather minor elements in this tale with a tail.
That said, Mermaid’s Song is an enjoyable watch, much in thanks to its wonderful cast. Mager, as Charlotte, is a beautifully poised young woman who wants to believe in the best in everyone, and to help her father dig the family out from their troubles. She anchors the production, allowing for some truly stellar performances from the bad guys – namely Rheon (as Randall) and Gemma (as Harold).
Rheon is deliciously devious, an elegantly evil man whose offers always come with a weighty price. As his goon Harold, Gemma is repulsive, so convincing as to be spine-tingling in the creepiest sense of the term. The remainder of the cast are all solid in their roles, with Fraser (as Emily) leading the ladies and giving her character some power-filled pizzazz. Meanwhile, Wallace (as Gertrude) has the perfect voice for narration, giving the film’s backstory that perfect clarity and zest that the fantasy requires.
Shot in British Columbia, Canada, with a wonderful score and soundtrack, Mermaid’s Song is not The Little Mermaid that you know and love, that’s for sure. It is an interesting and admittedly dark spin on the Hans Christian Andersen classic, one that does contain implied sexual assault and plenty of drama and gun-slinging, so it is definitely not a lighthearted affair. Be warned!
That said, it it is an interesting watch, one that holds its viewer’s interest for its run-time, and definitely leaves itself open for a sequel. Which might not be such a bad idea, particularly if it pairs the magical talents of Rheon and Mager together again. For these reasons, CrypticRock give Mermaid’s Song 3.5 of 5 stars.