Thursday, October 26, 2017

#2,447. Siren (2016)

Directed By: Gregg Bishop

Starring: Chase Williamson, Hannah Fierman, Justin Welborn

Tag line: "No Man Can Resist Her. All Men Should"

Trivia: The film was shot in 18 days and edited in 4 weeks

One of the most popular (not to mention best) segments in the 2012 anthology V/H/S was writer / director David Bruckner’s Amateur Night, a creature feature-style horror tale in which some guys encounter a very unusual girl. With Siren, director Gregg Bishop has taken the basic premise of Amateur Night and expanded it into a full-length movie, but with Hannah Fierman once again on-hand to play the titular character and a setting that’s as intriguing as its monster, this 2016 horror / fantasy proved to be much more than a short film stretched out to eighty minutes.

In a week’s time, Jonah (Chase Williamson) will be married to the love of his life, Eva (Lindsey Garrett). Jonah’s brother Mac (Michael Aaron Milligan), wants the groom-to-be to experience one final night of freedom, and invites Jonah and his two closest friends, Rand (Hayes Mercure) and Elliott (Randy McDowell), out for what he guarantees will be a wild and crazy bachelor weekend. 

At the first strip joint they visit, Mac is approached by a stranger who offers to take the quartet to a place called “50n / 40w”, a gentlemen’s club well off the beaten path that he claims will be unlike anything they’ve experienced before.

Anxious to show his brother a good time, Mac convinces Jonah and the others to accompany him to 50n / 40w, where they are greeted by Mr. Nyx (Justin Wellborn), the club’s proprietor, who promptly leads Jonah into a back room. Once there, Jonah meets Lily (Fierman), an exotic beauty who, it turns out, can give any man pleasure simply by singing to him.

The moment their intense encounter is over, Jonah notices that Lily is being kept in a cage. Giving in to his chivalrous nature, he decides to break her free, but as Jonah will soon discover, Lily is no ordinary woman, and setting her loose on the world definitely has its consequences.

Taking a successful short and turning it into a feature length film can sometimes be tricky, but Bishop and his writers, Ben Collins and Luke Plotrowski, managed to do just that with Siren. First and foremost, we care about the characters (both Jonah and his best friend, Rand, prove to be stand-up guys, and do what they can to help Lily escape her predicament), but even more compelling is the 50n / 40w club, which is simultaneously fascinating and mysterious. Situated in the middle of nowhere, it is clearly more than just a popular nightspot (we’re given brief glimpses of what’s going on in a few of the club’s private rooms, and some of what we see is beyond bizarre). As for Mr. Nyx and his employees, they remain an enigma through much of the film, but from the little we do learn about them, it’s obvious they’re not to be trifled with (the bartender, Ash, played by Brittany S. Hall, has powers that rival those of Lily). Truth be told, you could make an entire movie about the 50n / 40w club, and I’m betting it would be pretty awesome.

That said, Siren is Lily’s show, and as it was with Amateur Night, she’s every bit as deadly as she is gorgeous (Lily often shifts from one extreme to the other within the same scene). Though definitely a monster (technically, she’s a succubus from hell), Lily also possesses a naiveté that makes her a sympathetic character (in the movie’s opening sequence, we learn that she was brought to this world against her will), and Hannah Fierman does a fine job conveying this duality. In addition, the creature effects (CGI and otherwise) are top-notch, and go a long way in transforming the often-demure Lily into a beast we wouldn’t want to meet in a dark alley (or even a well-lit one, for that matter).

The entire cast and crew of Siren did such a good job expanding Lily’s story from short film to full-blown feature that I found myself wanting more. In fact, I’d love to see them make another film that centers on this very unique character. 

And if they throw the 50n / 40w club into the mix, they might even be able to turn it into a series.

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