"It": the commonly used term for that special something a performer brings to the table, consisting of some mysterious combination of talent and charisma. And if performers can have "it", it seems like projects can have "it" too.
Siren, by writer Geoffrey Gunn and writer/director Andrew Hull, is adequately cast, handsomely photographed, competently written, and produced well for what must be a small budget, but it lacks "it" -- some element that would
lift the film's limp thrills out of mediocrity.
Following an awkward opening sequence, lovers Rachel (Anna Skellern) and Ken (Eoin Macken) arrive in a random, foreign beach paradise and meet up with Rachel's longtime friend Marco (Anthony Jabre) for a weekend vacation. They head out
on Ken's boss' fancy boat and off into the ocean, and it becomes clear almost immediately that Marco may regret bungling a previous chance he might've had with Rachel. In a bit of posturing, Ken hands the reins to Marco so he can slip
below deck for a bit of impromptu lovemaking, but in the few minutes he's away from the wheel, Marco spots a stranded man signaling with a mirror from a distant island, and changes the boat's course.
Once the trio arrives, they discover their stranded man is insane, waving a blade and bleeding from the ears. When he collapses and dies suddenly, the three of them, concerned about the possibility that Rachel and Ken might face bias
as American tourists should they return with a body, bury the man in the sand, only to discover Silka (Tereza Srbova) watching them from nearby. The girl is traumatized and barely speaks, but when two of the three friends are
distracted, she slips into the title role of siren, trying to tempt and entrap Ken, Marco, and especially Rachel.
Gunn and Hull are, of course, borrowing from The Odyssey (which one character blatantly references), but it's their decisions with character that stand out as a positive. In other movies like this, a writer might feel the need to pump
up the stakes with useless character melodrama: Rachel and Ken would be on the rocks, Marco and Ken would distrust one another, Rachel would give into her old feelings for Marco at an inopportune moment, etc. It's a relief that the
script steers away from these kinds of things, allowing the characters to act rationally and thoughtfully even under the influence of nightmare-like visions.
Sadly, the positives end there. Srbova is a pretty girl, no doubt about it, but she fails to project the required irresistability of a siren, and doesn't give off enough presence to feel like a real threat. Worse, the characters, as
thoughtful as they may be, are still not particularly interesting. If horror movie victims came in tiers, all three of the leads in Siren would be in the least important, dies-in-the-first-act bracket. The trio may be stranded
in the middle of the ocean on a deadly desert island, but there's never any real interest in whether or not anyone survives. Maybe that's par for the course: even a siren's gotta catch a few throw-backs.
Four faceless bikini bodies make up the cover art for Siren, slathered in the maximum amount of Photoshop filtering to give the whole cover that boring, color-drained look from so many modern movies. The woman on the front is
also holding a Crocodile Dundee-sized knife that appears in the movie as frequently as the four cover models (never). Yawn. No insert inside the ECO-Box case.
The Video and Audio
Presented in 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen, Siren looks just fine on DVD. Colors are vivid, detail is strong if not great, and I didn't detect any compression artifacts other than some mosquito noise during the dark scenes. As a
director, Hull is fascinated by the sun and its affect on lighting and focus, and all of his soft-focus, blindingly bright, glossy photography choices are well rendered.
Dolby Digital 5.1 is a little more interesting than the picture, using directionality and sound effects to create an effectively creepy setting. During some of the movie's fantasy sequences, the sound design does a good job of
unsettling and disorienting the viewer, and the audio track faithfully works up the slight bit of distortion whenever the siren sings. English and Spanish subtitles are also provided.
A reel of deleted scenes (9:59) focus mostly on Srbova's character. It's mildly interesting to see how much of her dialogue was cut from the film in order to make Silka more mysterious.
Red-band trailers for Psych: 9, Stag Night, and Virus: X, as well as spots for FEARnet HD, Break.com and Epix play before the menu. The original theatrical trailer for Siren is also included.
Stealing from classic literature and improving on some tired genre tropes does not a movie make. It's a shame that Hull, who passed away shortly after the completion of the film, won't get a chance to improve his skills, but when it comes to thrills and chills, Siren is as adrift as the boat the characters are desperately trying to board and sail off in. Skip it.
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