January 28, 2020 The Siren (Movie Review)
Bodies of water are mysterious things: they hold secrets in their depths that just might be devastating if they ever come to the surface. These ideas in mind, Writer/Director Perry Blackshear (Karaoke Girl 2013, They Look Like People 2015) delivers The Siren to Digital platforms and DVD on Tuesday, January 28, 2020 via Dark Sky Films.
The story follows Al (MacLeod Andrews: They Look Like People 2015, Doctor Sleep 2019), who is a grieving man on a mission. His beloved husband has perished by drowning in a lake, but Al is not convinced that the drowning was an accident. Instead, he believes that a monster lives in the lake and caused his husband’s death. As a result of his obsession he watches the lake constantly in hopes that he will see the evil thing that took his husband from him.
Then there is Tom (Evan Dumouchel: They Look Like People 2015, Doctor Sleep 2019) a wholesome and mute religious man who is taking a few days of rest before continuing on his path in his church. Arriving at the lake, he immediately befriends Al, but also meets a beautiful woman named Nina (Margaret Ying Drake: They Look Like People 2015, Butterbean’s Cafe 2018). The chemistry between Al and Nina is clear and instant, but the three individuals lives briefly intertwine and it is soon realized that things will change forever.
The Siren is a simple film without any fancy effects. It relies heavily on the natural beauty of the lake and its surroundings to pull the viewer in. The forest and the lake are an idyllic setting that immediately creates a sense of calm and retreat; anyone would gladly spend time along the shores of the water and find peace. Fear is instilled, though, by the idea that something sinister just may be lurking somewhere in the calm waters. Unlike man-made swimming pools, lakes are filled with living beings that might not always want to share their world with outsiders. The scenery efficiently projects feelings of cautious calm that work nicely with the story being told.
Similarly, sirens of myth and folklore are meant to instill fear in the hearts of men traveling various waters. They are almost the epitome of a cautionary tale of trusting pure beauty on the surface. As they are not meant to be understood or empathized with, they are merely instruments of evil that bring men to their untimely deaths.
The Siren uses this same idea, but somehow allows the viewer to feel empathy and compassion for Nina. While she is obviously an instrument of death, the film allows the character to be far more complex than that. Drake’s Nina is somehow both a monster yet still wholesome and truly charming. Her existence and actions are not so clear cut black and white that the viewer will feel torn as to whether or not she is truly a monster or simply cursed like the victims she has previously taken.
The acting from all three of the cast is genuine and resonates on screen. At times it feels less like a film, but rather that the viewer is somehow peering into a moment of their lives. Dumouchel’s performance of Tom, as a mute man, is magnificent. Though no words are ever uttered from his lips, the viewer can almost sense the unspoken dialogue that the character has running through his mind. Purity, hope, and love radiate throughout his entire performance. It is a testament to his acting abilities to be able to elicit such a deep connection to the other actors onscreen as well as the viewer.
Andrews’s Al is also a well-crafted, complex character that is suffering but is able to show not only the anger as a result of is grief, but who he was before tragedy struck. With such a small cast of characters and beautifully ordinary backdrop, The Siren’s strength and power lies heavily in the script and the actors chosen. Both are solid and a perfect match to bring this emotional story to life.
Overall, The Siren is a beautiful film that blurs the lines between lore and humanity, as humans are complex and often their actions are not fully explainable. It masterfully explores this as well as the idea that monsters, too, may not be as easily explained. It will leave you questioning everything you thought you knew about love and the motivations behind the supernatural beings inhabiting the world. That is why Cryptic Rock is compelled to give The Siren 4 out of 5 stars.