Review by Billy Lyons
Horror anthologies have always been my favorite. I cut my teeth on the 1970s classics, movies like Torture Garden, The Uncanny, and The Vault of Horror. What made these films so special was their extremely high quality. The majority were produced by industry giants Hammer and Amicus, written by folks like Robert Bloch and Richard Matheson, and performed by masters such as Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee.
The horror anthology film has largely fallen by the wayside since those golden years. One will pop up from time to time, but usually turns out to be nothing more than a straight-to-video disappointment.
One exception was the 2012 film, V/H/S. My favorite segment from V/H/S was the first, “Amateur Night.” It dealt with a group of twenty-something males who pick up some girls in a bar and take them to a cheap hotel, where they hope to film their sexual exploits. It turns out, however, that one of the girls isn’t the slutty barfly they were looking for (what she actually is, we never really find out—vampire, demon, who knows?) and the male bimbos quickly meet a bloody, well-deserved end.
The mystery “lady” in “Amateur Night” was so enigmatic that I wanted more, and my wish was granted in the feature film SiRen. It tells the story of Jonah (played by Chase Williamson) a young man whose wedding day fast approaches. To celebrate, his brother throws an uninspired bachelor party comprised of a low-rent strip club and magic mushrooms.
The disappointed groomsmen are preparing to call it a night when they’re approached by a shady-looking stranger named Mr. Nyx, who promises them much more exciting adventures, if they will follow him to an undisclosed location deep in the middle of nowhere.
When Jonah and his friends arrive, they’re happy to find things just as advertised. The new venue is decidedly darker, and filled with an assortment of odd characters, straight out of a David Lynch movie. It isn’t until Jonah follows Mr. Nyx backstage, however, that he meets the strangest character of them all.
Lily (played by Hannah Firemen), the most attractive and seductive stripper of the lot, performs for Jonah inside a protective glass cage. Jonah assumes the enclosure is for Lily’s protection, but quickly discovers it’s for his own. It turns out that Lily is much more than a stripper with a dark side. She’s a Siren from the days of old, and Jonah quickly falls under her spell. What unfolds is a night of bloody carnage as Lily proves just how far she’ll go to keep what is hers.
SiRen is the perfect example of a movie based on a great idea that fails to live up to it’s full potential. Despite fine performances from all involved, the script never fully develops themes introduced early in the film, such as implanted memories, secret occult organizations, and the identity of the mysterious Mr. Nyx.
Perhaps most disappointing is the fact the audience doesn’t really learn any more about Lily than they did in V/H/S. Despite a muddled origin story in the movie’s opening scene, her character is never fully developed, and at the end of the movie all we really know about her is that she has a tail, can fly, and is in no way averse to ripping off the genitals of Frat-Boy types who deserve it.
Even so, the movie does have it’s moments. Justin Wellborn is excellent as Mr. Nyx, Hannah Firemen continues her excellent portrayal of Lily, and slasher movie fans will enjoy some bloody good kill scenes. In fact, those who are unfamiliar with V/H/S will probably find SiRen to be a moderately entertaining movie, but if you’re like me, and was captured by Lily’s SiRen song in her first on-screen appearance, it’s best to stay away.
Sometimes, the mystery is better.
Billy Lyons is the author of two previously published short stories. His latest, “Sheep and Snakes,” will be featured in Two Eyes Open, an anthology scheduled for release in August of this year by MacKenzie Publishing.
Billy’s debut novel, Blood and Needles, is currently available for pre-order at Amazon.com. It will be available everywhere June 15th from Intrigue Publishing.
Billy holds Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in psychology from The Citadel-The Military College of South Carolina, and George Mason University, respectively.