Hooooooooo baby. This is a weird one, and I still haven’t got a single fucking clue if I really liked this or not. Also this is definitely just going to be a review of this one movie, and no that’s not a hilarious misdirect, so lets do it.
Starring: Marta Mazurek, Michalina Olszanska, & Kinga Preis
Directed by: Angieska Smoczynska
Corki dancingu, or The Lure, comes from our lovely friends way off in Poland, where they do some pretty wild shit and make movies like this apparently. The movie is a loose adaptation of the original The Little Mermaid by Hans Christian Andersen – where two mermaid sisters emerge from the water and start to work as… strippers? Singers? Singing strippers? All the while getting into classic mermaid hijinks, like falling in love with a human man and getting cut in half so you can have real legs attached to yourself in exchange for your voice, only to be rejected by the guy you got cut in half for because you didn’t let your enormous surgery scar heal before you decided to bone down and he was a real dick about it.
Y’know… classic 1845 stuff.
The first thing to say about this movie is that it looks absolutely stunning. It’s beautifully shot, and extremely surreal from start to finish in ways that really do feel like you’re dreaming. Events flow into each other and only make sense in the way that a dream does until you start thinking about it. There are also some great practical effects – in particular the mermaid tails which are so wonderfully disgusting and impactful and really bring the whole thing together. According to IMDB trivia, the most accurate source, the tails were six feet long and weighed 50 pounds so they really are a tremendous presence.
Where the movie falls down, at least for me, is in the music. While this is definitely a musical, and not a scam like Attack of the Killer Tomatoes, and the performances are great from everyone in the cast, the songs themselves aren’t particularly interesting. You’re not going to be humming any of them or find yourself unable to get them out of your head. It almost feels like a jukebox musical, where you have popular songs that aren’t really about what’s happening on screen, but it’s an original musical. It just doesn’t really come together in a satisfying way.
All in all, this really is a fascinating little movie, and it’s clear that someone really wanted to tell this story. The absolute deluge of production company logos in the opening minutes tells me that a lot of work went in to bringing this thing to life. It feels like I’m trying to make sense of someone else’s dream or something and I’m only going to get so far.
You could do a whole lot worse for horror musicals, but this definitely leans more towards creepy fable than outright horror, so your mileage is likely to vary as with anything else. I had a good time with it, but I’m not sure I’m going to watch it again.
That said, it was absolutely more creatively meaningful than that live-action remake of the Disney version is going to be, so maybe watch this instead? Plus its a Criterion film so you can feel like a real smarty pants when you watch it.