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Film / The Little Mermaid (2018)

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The Little Mermaid is a 2018 fantasy romance film directed by Blake Harris and Chris Bouchard. It is loosely based on Hans Christian Andersen's Fairy Tale of the same name. Chances are, you've probably heard of it because when its trailer went online, it amassed thousands of views from people thinking it was Disney's live-action remake, when it actually wasn't.

A grandmother (Shirley MacLaine) is telling her two granddaughters the story of the titular mermaid (Poppy Drayton). It takes place in the 1930s, concerning a young girl called Elle (Loreto Peralta) who has just lost her parents and is in the care of her journalist uncle Cam (William Moseley). Elle is also sick and upon hearing talks of a 'Mermaid Miracle Juice' in Mississippi, Cam takes her there in search of a story and a cure.



  • Adaptation Deviation: The mermaid traded her voice for legs in the book. Here she traded her soul.
  • Adaptational Villainy: As in the Disney version, the person who granted the mermaid legs becomes an antagonist.
  • Aerith and Bob: A magician called Locke, a fortune teller called Thora and a mermaid called...Elizabeth.
  • …And That Little Girl Was Me: Elle is of course the old woman telling the story.
  • Animated Credits Opening: The opening credits depict an animated retelling of the traditional Little Mermaid story, albeit reworked slightly to fit the movie's plot.
  • Big Bad: Locke, the wizard that granted Elizabeth her legs in exchange for her soul and enslaved her ever since.
  • Cardboard Prison: Elizabeth is able to walk out of the circus rather easily without Locke knowing.
  • Chekhov's Gun:
    • The organ with a curious combination turns out to be where Locke is hiding Elizabeth's soul.
    • Advertisement:
    • Elizabeth tells of a fairy tale about a human girl who possesses "the heart of a mermaid". Presumably this is why Elle is revealed to have become one by the end.
  • Circus of Fear: The circus houses genuine supernatural beings held prisoner.
  • Did Not Get the Girl: The end implies that Cam and Elizabeth can't end up together.
  • Disney Villain Death: Locke meets his end being pushed off a cliff by Cam.
  • Gender Flip: The sea witch of the original tale is replaced with a human sorcerer.
  • Freakiness Shame: While spending time on the cruise ship with Cam, Elizabeth apparently loses track of time. A random comment from Cam about the tide reminds Elizabeth she's going to transform soon. In a panic, Elizabeth runs off and jumps into the water off-screen. While the implication seemed to be she was afraid of transforming in front of random people, when Cam jumps after her and the two reunite, she says he's afraid of her like everyone else. Cam assures her that he's just confused (he's just been given proof mermaids are real, after all) and doesn't understand why she's bound to Locke.
  • Freaky Is Cool: Elle is completely awestruck and fascinated the couple times she sees Elizabeth transform.
  • Heartwarming Orphan: Elle is The Pollyanna due to her belief in fairies, mermaids etc.
  • "I Want" Song: Elizabeth sings a song called "When This Story Ends", while Cam is sneaking around the tents.
  • Improbable Age: Cam looks a little young to be an established journalist. William Moseley was thirty when the film was made.
  • Informed Ability: Locke is meant to be a powerful sorcerer that no one dares stand up to. Any time he's confronted in a magic battle, he's defeated easily.
  • Last Kiss: Elizabeth and Cam share a kiss before she goes back to the ocean.
  • Like Goes with Like: Elizabeth is a white mermaid held captive by a Hispanic magician. Of course her true love is a white man.
  • Magic Realism: A mermaid, sorcerer and psychic in 1930s Mississippi. The movie however veers more into outright fantasy in the last act - featuring magic battles.
  • Motor Mouth: Peggy Gene, a woman who claims the elixir cured her of madness.
  • Nephewism: Cam taking care of his niece kicks off the plot.
  • New Powers as the Plot Demands: Thora the fortune teller suddenly reveals she has the power to stop time and temporarily give Elizabeth legs when her power had previously just appeared to be telling the future.
  • Organic Bra: In her mermaid form, Elizabeth's scales cover her breasts, acting like a natural swimsuit or bikini top (we don't really get a good view of how her tail and torso scales are connected).
  • Our Mermaids Are Different: Elizabeth gets legs at low tide, but she had to make a deal with a sorcerer to get that (probably, the movie isn't exactly clear on that). It seems as though returning her soul would take away her ability to walk on land permanently. (Again, this is not really explained.) The water she swims in also appears to grant healing powers. She also appears to be able to grant Elle the power to become a mermaid of some kind. It's not entirely clear just what Elle is other than she has some connection to the ocean.
  • The Pollyanna: Cam lampshades this about Elle in a letter, saying she's taking her parents' death incredibly well.
  • Scenery Censor: Once Thora turns Elizabeth into a human, she's nude but she is hidden from view by deliberate choreography and a brief Toplessness from the Back shot before she's given a coat to wear.
  • Seashell Bra: Played With, Elizabeth manifests a fish-scale bikini top in her mermaid form.
  • Sexy Soaked Shirt: Cam spends a scene of exposition in an underwater cave with Elizabeth while his shirt is like this.
  • Significant Wardrobe Shift: Cam is fully suited up at first, but wears an Intimate Open Shirt when he takes Elle to the circus and sees Elizabeth for the first time. He wears his shirt this way whenever he sees Elizabeth from then on.
  • Unexplained Accent: It's not said why Elle has a British uncle. We can assume Cam's brother married an American girl.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: It's not said what happened to the mermaid's original lover.
  • Would Hurt a Child: Locke is perfectly willing to use Elle for... something.
  • Yandere: Locke wants to control Elizabeth and doesn't take it well when she falls for another.