31 Days of Halloween — Day 26: Siren (2016) — by Dr. Shock

31 Days of Halloween - Siren (2016)

Editor’s note: Dave “Dr. Shock” Becker is a host on Horror Movie Podcast, Universal Monsters Cast and Land of the Creeps horror podcasts. He is also the mastermind behind DVDInfatuation.com, a movie review blog where he is watching and posting one review every day until he reaches at least 2,500 movie reviews. Follow Doc on Twitter: @DVDinfatuation.

One of the most popular (not to mention best) segments in the 2012 anthology V/H/S is writer / director David Bruckner’s Amateur Night, a creature feature-style horror tale in which a group of guys encounters a very unusual girl. With Siren, director Gregg Bishop has taken the basic premise of Amateur Night and expanded it into a full-length movie, but with Hannah Fierman once again on-hand to play the titular character and a setting that’s as intriguing as its monster, this 2016 horror / fantasy proves to be much more than a short film stretched out to 80 minutes.

In a week’s time, Jonah (Chase Williamson) will be married to the love of his life, Eva (Lindsey Garrett). To give him one final taste of freedom, Jonah’s brother Mac (Michael Aaron Milligan) takes Jonah and his two closest friends, Rand (Hayes Mercure) and Elliott (Randy McDowell), out for what he guarantees will be a wild and crazy bachelor weekend.

Alas, things don’t start out well for the quartet; the first strip joint they visit fails to live up to their expectations. But just when it looks as if the weekend is going to be a bust, Mac is approached by a stranger who promises to take them to a place called “50n / 40w”, a gentlemen’s club well off the beaten path that he claims will be unlike any they’ve experienced before.

Anxious to show his brother a good time, Mac convinces Jonah and the others to accompany him to 50n / 40w, where they are greeted by Mr. Nyx (Justin Wellborn), the club’s proprietor, who promptly leads Jonah into a back room. There, the groom-to-be meets Lily (Fierman), an exotic beauty who, it turns out, can give any man pleasure simply by singing to him.

The moment their intense encounter is over, Jonah notices that Lily is being kept in a cage. Giving in to his chivalrous nature, he decides to break her free, but as Jonah will soon discover, Lily is no ordinary woman, and setting her loose on the world definitely has its consequences.

Taking a successful short and turning it into a feature-length film can sometimes be tricky, but Bishop and his writers, Ben Collins and Luke Plotrowski, managed to do just that with Siren by creating a group of characters we care about (both Jonah and his best friend, Rand, prove to be stand-up guys) as well as a setting that’s simultaneously fascinating and mysterious. Situated in the middle of nowhere, 50n / 40w is clearly more than just a popular nightspot (we’re given brief glimpses of what’s going on in a few of the club’s private rooms, and some of what we see is beyond bizarre). As for Mr. Nyx and his employees, they remain an enigma through much of the film, but from the little we do learn about them, it’s obvious they’re not to be trifled with (the bartender, Ash, played by Brittany S. Hall, has powers that rival those of Lily). Truth be told, you could make an entire movie about the 50n / 40w club, and I’m betting it would be pretty awesome.

But Siren is Lily’s show, and as it was with Amateur Night, she’s every bit as deadly as she is gorgeous (Lily often shifts from one extreme to the other within the same scene). Though definitely a monster (technically, she’s a succubus from hell), Lily also possesses a naiveté that makes her a sympathetic character (in the movie’s opening sequence, we learn that she was brought to this world against her will), and Hannah Fierman does a fine job conveying this duality. In addition, the creature effects (CGI and otherwise) are top-notch, and go a long way in transforming the often-demure Lily into a beast we wouldn’t want to meet in a dark alley (or a well-lit one, for that matter).

The entire cast and crew of Siren does such a good job expanding Lily’s story from short film to full-blown feature that I found myself wanting more. In fact, I’d love to see them make another movie that centers on this very unique character.

And if they throw the 50n / 40w club into the mix, they might even be able to turn it into a series.

—Dr. Shock

Dr. Shock’s links:
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2 thoughts on “31 Days of Halloween — Day 26: Siren (2016) — by Dr. Shock

  1. Day 26 – Maximum Overdrive

    Written and directed by the God of horror fiction himself, Stephen King, comes King’s only directed feature to date. I would imagine when the film first came out, one of the biggest selling points was the curiosity of seeing what King could come up with when he’s given full control over a movie. Perhaps that’s also why Maximum Overdrive has been such a disappointment to so many people. Make no mistake about it, Maximum Overdrive does feel as if it’s a King project, the problem is that’s not necessary a good thing. King has a lot of amazing qualities, but I think he also has a tendency of having some unique tastes. After all, this is the guy who hates what Stanley Kubrick did with The Shining.

    The clearest issue would be the overuse of cheap comedy. Perhaps it’s because I’m not a child anymore, but I don’t find anything entertaining about a guy farting while on the toilet. Likewise, the over the top reactions by some of the characters, especially Wanda June when she repeatedly shouts, “But we made you!” at the machines, was too hammy. I can’t say there was a single character that I truly cared about. Considering it’s a movie about machines coming alive, this may be a silly thing to have an issue with, but I disliked how some of the machines were able to move without an actual means. For example, the knife that attacks Wanda June early on. There isn’t any sort of mechanism in the knife that can cause it to move in such a way. In contrast, it does make sense that a vehicle can drive itself when everything it needs to move is already there. I do recognize that the film is cheesy enough that it may be appealing to some on a guilty pleasure level. At points I felt that way, but considering it’s over ninety minutes long, the concept grows tiring.

    That’s not to say there positive things about Maximum Overdrive though. The actual horror aspects were all quite good. I love the look of the main truck with the green goblin on the front of the truck. It’s easily the most memorable visual of the entire film. Violence wise, the film is an equal opportunist killer. The machines kill children and animals just as freely as it kills adults. Since there’s so many deaths, both kills we see on camera and those we merely see the after effects of, a lot of the deaths are really creative and bloody. Maximum Overdrives really earns its R rating with the gore.

    The audio is the other big strength of the film. With the legendary band, AC DC, providing the entire soundtrack, the viewer is greeted with one great track after another. I know I’d be far more likely to try and buy the soundtrack rather than the actual DVD of the film. Considering the fact that Maximum Overdrive bombed at the box office, I wonder how much money the film lost just by paying AC DC rather than using something cheaper. The character of Connie provided a lot of entertainment as well. Playing Connie is the actress of Yeardley Smith. While that may not necessarily be a household name, I would suspect everyone would know of Smith without realizing it due to Smith providing the voice of Lisa Simpson on Fox’s The Simpsons. At various points in the film, especially whenever Connie was screaming, the Lisa Simpson voice came out most hilariously when Connie is shouting expletives.

    Overall, Maximum Overdrive had a lot of interest in theory thanks to Stephen King being at the helm, but it’s ultimately just a cheesy B movie. The soundtrack and kills are both great, but it’s not enough to save the movie. Had the movie been shorter, perhaps as an episode in an anthology horror series, it would have been more effective. Then again, perhaps a tale of machines coming alive is just too wacky of a concept for the screen and it’s better served in book form.

    Rating: 5.5/10

  2. Day 26: The Thing (1982)

    I watch this film a couple of times every year and at least once in October. For me, there’s a halloween connection to this film because in Carpenter’s Halloween (1978) Laurie and Tommy are watching The Thing From Another World (1951) which is the first film adaptation of the novella, Who Goes There? Carpenter must have loved the novella and first film but his version is by far my favorite. A perfect film! 10/10

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