In Greek mythology a siren is a beautiful woman who would lure sailors to their doom with enchanting songs, making the sailors wreck their boats in the rocky waters around her island. A haunting tale if ever there was one, and not one that has been used very often, if at all, in the world of film. And if the current crop of so-called ‘horror’ films is anything to go by then Siren should really be a breath of original air in an increasingly stale market. So does Siren work any magic, or does it leave you with that sinking feeling?
Ken (Eoin Macken) and his girlfriend Rachel (Anna Skellern) are escaping their everyday lives for a weekend of sailing around the Mediterranean on Ken’s boss’ boat. After a bizarre role-playing game on the way they meet up with Rachel’s old college friend Marco (Anthony Jabre), who still holds a candle for Rachel, and the trio embark on what should be a relaxing weekend. When Ken decides to go below deck for some fun with Rachel, Marco steers the boat towards a small island to try and help a castaway who is bleeding from his ears and behaving erratically. After the man climbs aboard the boat and promptly dies, the three friends decide to bury him on the beach but are spotted by a strange but beautiful woman who calls herself Silka (Tereza Srbova). They invite Silka to join them but before long the group start to become the victims of paranoid delusions and sexual urges towards each other, and they soon realise that Silka has a very strange hold over them when she sings and that their lives are in incredible danger…
First of all, this is a very misleading film. The cover of the dvd has a bikini-clad beauty brandishing a knife in an I Spit On Your Grave style, but what you get here is nothing like that. Instead of going down that route, with all the trimmings that a slasher-at-sea film could deliver, what we get is a string of very dull hallucination sequences with a few quick edits thrown in, whilst the three leads try to get away from Silka…and then try to find her again…and then try to escape her again, and so on. Thanks to the handy plot device of randomly having what a siren is explained to them by a harbour worker, it means that the audience and the characters should know exactly what Silka is when we first meet her. But no…we have to sit and painfully watch our three leads sort of stumble around a bit whilst wondering what’s going on. When the end of the film does come (hoorah!) and there’s been a lttle bit of a build up to something we get…nothing. It sort of fizzles out without very much happening at all, no big revelation (because we already know what she is), no big gore scene and no feeling of anything other than wasted time.
Is it all bad? Well, no. Directed by the late Andrew Hull (P2, Queer as Folk), Siren has high production values, great cinematography, fluid direction and the seeds of a promising idea. The acting isn’t too bad considering that the characters aren’t very likeable (one of the cardinal sins of a horror film) or well written, although it’s only really Eoin Macken as Ken who leaves any sort of impression. The wide shots of the ocean and the sunset are very well done and the camerawork is pretty top notch, leaving one to wonder what Andrew Hull could have gone on to do with such obvious directional flair and an eye for scenery.
Overall, Siren falls pretty short of the mark. Those of you who are expecting the sex and gore that the cover promises will be very disappointed, as will those of you after a tense and suspenseful seafaring shocker in the same vein as Dead Calm or Donkey Punch. Ultimately, a waste of time that you’ll never get back.