“To me, you’ll always be a fish, an animal.”
There is clearly a coming of age story in Agnieszka Smoczynksa’s 2015 film The Lure, which is also a horror and a musical. And it’s likely that genre mashup that made it difficult for people to connect to the movie and why it did poorly at the box office. Smoczynska created a strong vision for her first film, though. Because of that, the film’s cult following is already growing not to mention people taking it seriously because of its placement in Criterion’s lineup of releases.
Join us – Pete Wright and Andy Nelson – for the fifth film in our Horror Debuts series as we join the dance party in Smoczynska’s 2015 film The Lure.
The Lure is pretty bonkers, but at a level that works well for both of us.
While the genre mashup may be difficult for some people to click with, it worked for us. Well, to that end, Andy feels more comfortable calling it a dark fairytale musical rather than a horror film. No matter how you slice it, though, it’s a fascinating film that metaphorically explores female coming-of-age and sexuality through a fairytale lens. There is a strong current of Hans Christian Anderson’s “The Little Mermaid” running through this film. The filmmakers have also imbued the mermaids with the darker elements from Homer’s “The Odyssey.”
Using horror films like The Lure to explore metaphorical issues
We’ve talked about horror as metaphor in both The Babadook and Relic. Horror has often been a way for storytellers to deal with issues in metaphorical ways. There’s something strong in this recent run of films we’ve discussed, though, that seems to make the metaphors very visual. It’s a wonderful genre to explore ideas like these. We love how recent filmmakers are pushing their stories forward so deliberately. Plus, they all have strong visual design and story structure that makes these films stand out. The Lure does have its share of story issues, particularly as it builds toward the climax in the third act, but the world is so unique and engaging that it’s easy to give it more of a pass.
But why does The Lure need to be in the 80s? Is it just because that’s when the director, writer, and musicians upon which the story is very loosely based spent their childhood? Do the metaphors work when trying to explore what they’re saying about Communist Poland in the 80s? On top of that, we also have a metaphor for immigrants moving to foreign lands to make better lives for themselves only to get trapped in the sex industry. So when is it too much?
Regardless, we still really enjoy The Lure. The performances are great, particularly from the three actresses playing the two mermaids and their mother figure in the band. We have a lot to talk about with this one so check the film out and tune in. The Next Reel – when the movie ends, our conversation begins!
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