Often an audience’s disappointment with a film has little to do with quality, and much more to do with unfulfilled expectations. Sometimes these expectations come from the audience member’s past experiences, including watching similar films. And then there are the times, like The Siren, when the expectations are established by a faulty marketing/advertising campaign. From the artwork alone, one could not be faulted for making the assumption that The Siren belongs in the horror genre, when in reality it is an emo-romance with threats of horror that never truly develop. While I give credit to low budget filmmaking, the budget seems to have affected the direction of this narrative in a rather dull way.
With an over-use of voiceover, we are introduced to Al (MacLeod Andrews), a badly bearded man wandering around a lake while mourning the loss of his husband. While his death was deemed a drowning, Al is convinced that there is a more nefarious explanation living in the lake. Meanwhile, a mute Christian named Tom (Evan Dumouchel) rents a nearby lakeside shack that looks like it is used to store fishing gear (no budget for a lakeside cabin, I guess). But it is so close to the water’s edge that it allows for the introduction of Nina (Margaret Ying Drake), a young woman that appears swimming one night. For whatever reason Tom never questions that she is always in the water.
Because the main character is mute, even when he has interactions with Nina and Al, they are fairly one-sided, and lacking much depth. The plot also often feels directionless, stretching what little story there is far beyond its limitations, and very little of this time is spent developing the characters enough to be interesting. Nina gets her own voiceover sections, which feel like bad Terrence Malick parody, while making it explicitly clear that she is a siren that has the urge to drown every human she meets. That is, until she meets Tom and the film turns into a tortured star-crossed romance that feels more than a little derivative of The Shape of Water. There is even a gay supporting character, along with the mute human-aquatic creature romance. Without any real emotional connection to the characters, however, it just felt empty. And worse than that, it was boring.
The DVD release for The Siren comes with a commentary track by writer/director Perry Blackshear, along with actress Margaret Ying Drake. Surprisingly, there is even a second commentary track with the other two actors, MacLeod Andrews and Evan Dumouchel. Apparently they weren’t able to record a commentary together, but I can’t imagine many people out of the production taking the time to watch two separate commentary tracks for this film. While it pads the extras, it also feels a bit like overkill for a film like this. There is also an interview with the Blackshear at the Glasgow Frightfest.
Entertainment Value: 3/10
Quality of Filmmaking: 4/10
Historical Significance: 1/10
Special Features: 7/10