Siren (2010)

(On DVD, June 2011) While the box cover art promises a schlocky sex-and-supernatural-horror film, Siren is really a classy sex-and-supernatural-horror film.  The difference lies mostly in the absence of nudity and the presence of some good cinematography.  The story is dirt-simple; as three young people (a randy couple, plus their friend) end up on a deserted island where various foreboding omens don’t stop them from spending time with a beautiful woman who clearly knows more than she’s willing to say.  It doesn’t get any better for any of the characters after that.  But in horror films, it’s all in the delivery, and the small cast gets to play against some beautiful Mediterranean scenery, well-framed within widescreen cinematography.  The pacing of the film is leisurely, the characters are mildly unpleasant, the coda barely makes sense and the lack of nudity feels more frustrating given the naughty nature of the film (which even throws in a bit of girl-on-girl kissing as further titillation), but there’s still a lot to admire in the way this low-budget film plays with the elements it has on-hand.  The blood and violence is restrained, effectively showing up only during the last act.  (A pretty good bliss/death sequence certainly shakes things up.)  The actors struggle a bit with their English, but they’re appealing in their own way despite the indifferent script. (Headliner Anna Skellern is particularly good as the protagonist.)  Siren’s rhythm, as slow as it is, certainly gives an extra gloss of respectability to what is, after all, a fairly lightweight B-movie.  The script could have used a lot of tightening-up (or even a few extra characters/subplots), but DVD extra features show how much worse the film’s original vision could have been, with the Siren character suddenly talking the ears off the other characters in a few judiciously deleted scenes.  While I’m not exactly a fan of the film and resent the marketing bait-and-switch, Siren is far more respectable than many other straight-to-DVD horror films, and it may be worth a look by horror fans looking for a change of pace.

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