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Film / The Lure

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The Lure (Polish: Córki dancingu, meaning "Daughters of Dancing") is a 2015 horror film from Polish director Agnieszka Smoczyńska loosely based on The Little Mermaid by Hans Christian Andersen.

A chance encounter between two mermaid sisters, Silver and Golden, and a family of musicians ends up with the girls recruited into a cabaret. As they try to blend in with the human crowd, one of them becomes attracted to her bandmate, while the other one follows her murderous instincts.

Blending the genres of black comedy, horror and musical, the movie draws inspiration from folk tales and the realities of life in late '80s Poland.

The movie provides examples of:

  • All There in the Script: In the original, cinematic release, when the sisters "talk" with each other making whale sounds, their actual dialogues about Silver's love toward Mietek and Golden desire to bail to America are left out. They were, however, re-instated as subtitles in foreign releases and in the eventual DVD release.
  • Ambiguous Time Period: At first glance, it's the 80s. On further inspection, however, it's bits and pieces from few different decades. As stated by Word of God, the main point was about being outworldly and unreal, rather than specific year or even period.
  • Barbie Doll Anatomy: Called out by name when the Drummer presents the girls to the Manager. When in human form, they lack any sexual characteristics below their waists - even their buttocks are fused together.
  • Beauty Is Never Tarnished: Averted. Golden gets a scratch of her face while struggling with her first victim, although the wound seems to disappear and reappear in different scenes. Later, Silver gets a huge scar across her torso after the half-body transplant.
  • Bestiality Is Depraved: Mietek refuses to have sex with Silver because of this. The Drummer seems to have less inhibitions.
  • Black Eyes of Evil: Whenever the mermaids let loose their primal nature, their eyes turn black. More visible in Silver's case, since her "human" eyes are a brighter shade.
  • Compelling Voice: Mermaids can put those attracted to them into a trance by singing.
  • Creator Cameo: "Ballady i Romanse", the band responsible for writing the soundtrack, perform in the film at the wedding reception. Under the same name, too.
  • Dark Reprise: Inverted. When at first Silver sings a solo of "Fly", it's a brooding song about everyone being sad and miserable with each other. Then, at their wedding reception Mietek and Nancy sing the song to a cheerful, pop tune they've worked on together - but it's still the same, brooding lyrics.
  • Died in Your Arms Tonight: Silver in Mietek's, turning into sea foam the morning after his wedding to another girl.
  • Downer Ending: Silver dies in the arms of the man she loves because she cannot bring herself to kill him. In a fit of rage and grief, Golden kills Mietek then leaps back into the water while the other band members watch in horror.
  • Dumb Blond: Mietek has shades of this. In case of Silver, it can at least be explained with Love Makes You Dumb - Mietek meanwhile is a pretty boy that happens to be really slow.
  • Eerie Pale-Skinned Brunette: Not as pale as the usual example of this trope, but Golden's fair skin and dark hair play well with her more predatory nature.
  • Fan Disservice: While the film frequently portrays its attractive protagonists stylishly topless, it's played as this a good half of the time. Special mention goes to Silver's surgery, in which she and a woman next to her are both cut in half, and the subsequent sex scene between her and Mietek that's cut short when he's disgusted by her bleeding onto him from her massive surgical scar.
  • Fantastically Indifferent: For the most part, nobody bats an eye on the fact there are mermaids around. And it's not that the sisters' looks are taken for stage tricks - everyone is perfectly aware they are real mermaids.
  • Fingore: Golden bites off the Drummer's thumb as he apologizes for knocking the sisters out and dumping them in the river.
  • Fractured Fairy Tale: It's The Little Mermaid in quasi-80s Poland, with all the nasty stuff such setting brings. How fractured? It starts with Mietek's singing luring the mermaids out of the water.
  • Genre Roulette: It's an Urban Fantasy. It's a Romantic Comedy. It's a Musical. It's a Horror. It's a Tragedy. Sometimes the transitions from one genre to another lead to Mood Whiplash.
  • Girl on Girl Is Hot: Invoked as part of one of their shows - the mermaids exchanging kisses to titillate the public and be as provocative as possible. There is also incestuous angle to it, given they are sisters and the crowd is aware of that.
  • Glamour Failure: When hungry (and angry), the mermaids take on far more monstrous appearance.
  • I Am a Humanitarian: Mermaids feed on human hearts. While not stated directly, it seems to give them more benefits than regular food - allowing them to heal after being knocked out and thrown off a bridge and even break curses.
  • Lack of Empathy: It's hard to tell if Mietek has an empathy of a brick, or is as dumb as one. Or just both.
  • Literal Maneater: Golden's first victim gets killed when attempting to have sex with her in his car.
  • Lost in Translation: Various Double Entendres from lyrics end up being lost in translations, since it was impossible to keep the tune and in the same time keep (or at least explain) the joke. This is then served in a double whammy with inevitable Popcultural Osmosis Failure, as non-Poles will be unable to tell which songs were written for the movie and which ones are the real deal from the 80s - nor what's their significance.
  • Mermaid Problem: Oddly inverted. The mermaids have Barbie Doll Anatomy in human form but do have a slit at the bottom of their tails. Unfortunately, Silver's intended prefers human anatomy.
  • More Teeth than the Osmond Family: When they drop the glamour, the mermaids' mouths are full of sharp, conical teeth.
  • Mr. Exposition: Triton the punkrocker merman provides important details on mermaid mythology.
  • Nightmare Fetishist: The policewoman. As if Golden's real form wasn't creepy enough, she has sex with her at gunpoint. Made extra creepy by the fact she knows Golden is a murderer and a cannibal, and that's what turned her on in the first place.
  • Our Mermaids Are Different: When dry, the mermaids gain very human legs, combined with Barbie Doll Anatomy, but if they stay out of water for too long, they get sick (with the implication of eventually dying). They also don't have soul and turn in the sea foam when rejected by their beloved human (unless that mermaid eats the heart of that human before the morning after his wedding). Oh, they also eat people, both for fun and for extra superpowers, while luring them with their singing into defenseless stupor. Also unusual is their fish tails resemble an eel's or barracuda's rather than a typical fish tail. Finally, removing a mermaid's tail renders her mute.
  • Public Exposure: One of the sisters' heart-to-hearts happens in the middle of a nude photography session.
  • Sirens Are Mermaids: The mermaids have great looks and alluring voices, which they use precisely for that - to lure unexpecting victims and eat them. However, they put them into use in show-business instead, with the magic properties of their singing attracting audiences. It's implied their voices work on people that can be attracted to them, meaning heterosexual men, but also lesbians.
  • Trailers Always Lie: The American triler is more straightforward about the movie's content, but the original Polish trailer made quite a lot of viewers believe they were going to watch an urban fantasy chick flick. This significantly affected the reception, something admitted both by the director and the company responsible for the marketing.
  • Shameless Fanservice Girls: The mermaids treat clothes merely as a costume to fit in with humans - they strip at the drop of a hat. Of course, this makes their job as strippers much easier.
  • Urban Fantasy: It's a story about misadventures of duo of mermaids, working as singers in a gaudy, 80s dance club.
  • What Measure Is A Nonhuman: Mietek rebukes Silver's advances by telling her he considers her an animal and essentially no different from a fish. The fact that she has to be in mermaid form in order to have sex probably doesn't help. Notably, he's the only character with such qualms.