Ginger Nuts of Horror
Siren is the interesting debut feature film from British director Jesse Peyronel,it is a strange mixture of love story, spy drama and kitchen sink thriller that gives rise to a powerful dark urban fairy tale for a modern world. It has all of the classic themes of the fairy tales with which we grew up with. The damsel ( although not quite the classic damsel in distress) the handsome hero and the wicked step mother, in this case the military who want to weaponise the strange capabilities of Leigh the Siren of the film's title.....
Vanessa Shaw stars a Leigh, a women who has been condemn to live on her own, thanks to her scent being unique. A scent that drives men wild with its intoxicating aroma, one whiff of her pheromones and you will be forever in her rapture. It has the power to make people see her as their true hearts desire, it tricks their mind into seeing her as the woman of their dreams, they don't see her true form they only see what you want to see. However that's not the half of it, her scent also drives them to become totally infatuated with her, it overpowers the love they feel for anyone else and compels them to be with her regardless of what love or family life they have.
She lives in constant threat of the local men falling helplessly in love with her, to the point where she lives in a heavily fortified house deep in the woods, fearful of discovery whenever she enters the local town she has to heavily cover herself up to mask the power of her attraction. But even this isn't enough as the town's local male population still get trapped in her power like spiders in a web.
However it's not just the men that cause her problems the towns womenfolk have ostracized her calling her a tart and such like, convinced she is a home wrecker, they are unaware of her curse and blame her solely for wrecking their marriages.
Riding into town like all the best heroes is the drifter Guy, played by Robert Kazinsky, coming to her rescue he is a expert in electronics and electrical engineering and manages to repair her security system which was damaged in the storm at the start of the film. Guy is immune to her power, thanks to his olfactory system being destroyed in an explosion during military action. But is Guy the hero of her dreams or is there something more to him, is he hiding a secret or his he her one true love? The answers to this can found by watching the film.
Siren is a very accomplished film. Siren as mentioned earlier can best be described as a dark urban fairy tale, it never quite crosses over into pure horror territory, which is a wise move by the writer and director Peyronel. If he had stepped over line it would have cheapened the strength and power of the film. Most of the dread and horror comes from the nail biting encounters that Leigh has with the male population. Two scenes in particular work extremely well in this manner.
The first is where we see a sort of snapshot of her security camera at the front door, all the images of men desperate to court her is very unnerving. They start to look and feel more like vermin than actual humans. The second scene is where the father, of a boy who fell under her spell, comes to confront her about it. As you watch him become ever more agitated and anxious to the point where he finally makes his move on her, you also become very anxious and agitated. There is a mounting sense of dread and a hint of something much more worse to come. In the hands of a lesser writer and director I'm sure that this scene in particular would have taken a very different route.
The acting is solid from the two main leads, there is a lot of chemistry between them, which makes the development of their characters and their relationship believable.
The cinematography gives the film a dreamlike fairy tale quality. Peyronel uses the Autumnal woodland setting of Leigh's home and some nice mist filled scenes with Leigh dressed in a large hooded robe to great effect. It enhances Shaw's performance as a sort of empowered Red Riding Hood.
The film isn't without fault, the finale while handled very well, does suffer from a slightly telegraphed ending. Those of you familiar with certain films will spot it a mile off. However it is still a good ending, one that will have you thinking "ah but wait surely they would....." until you realise that actually no thanks to Leigh's curse "they actually won't"
Siren marks the beginning of what I hope to be a very interesting career for Jesse Peyronel, I had gone into this film expecting a clunker, but came out of it mesmerized by it. This is a wonderfully acted, intelligent film that keeps the trend of 2015 being a bumper year for unique films going very strong indeed.