John’s Horror Corner: Siren (2016), the sexy demon movie based on V/H/S’ Amateur Night by the man behind Dante the Great.
MY CALL: If you’re in the mood for a sexy demon movie and have low to moderate expectations, this is for you! MORE MOVIES LIKE Siren: V/H/S (2012) and V/H/S Viral (2014) for reasons detailed in the review below. Also, note the Horror Romance Sidebar below for other suggestions.
Images (above) from Amateur Night
Based on the wildly popular “Amateur Night” segment from V/H/S (2012), director Gregg Bishop (who directed V/H/S Viral’s popular segment Dante the Great) combines our favorite actors from Dante the Great and Amateur Night in this feature length spin-off. This is exactly what we hope will happen after seeing great short films in horror anthologies.
Jonah is a nice guy. Jonah (Chase Williamson; The Guest, John Dies at the End) is having his bachelor party and his hyper-active best man Mac (Michael Aaron Milligan; Shark Lake, V/H/S Viral segment Dante the Great) naturally goes overboard and makes it all about strippers and debauchery.
The feisty nature of the early scenes help make up for the writing and acting that just aren’t there. It’s introductory fun-spiritedness journeys us to a ho-hum strip club with unmotivated lap dances, some standard comedy set ups that might draw a smile (e.g., B-squad strippers fumbling about the stage), and some sophomoric bro chat. Mac encounters a slick stranger at the bar who invites them to a “more serious” and rather remote venue. And that’s when things get weird.
The opening scene brings a partial explanation of the supernatural being commandeered by Mr. Nyx (Justin Welborn; V/H/S Viral segment Dante the Great, The Final Destination, The Crazies, The Signal). Nyx is the proprietor of the secret strip club where we find Lily (Hannah Fierman; V/H/S segment Amateur Night), who has a “hint” of her true nature (harkening back to Amateur Night for those who have seen it). Her origin is suggestive that she is a demon from Hell—like a succubus. Only this seductress has a Siren’s song that will weaken the minds of men. It mashes up a couple different fabled temptress creatures (the succubus and the siren) and doesn’t really explain outside of a summoned infernal origin.
Now I liked this but I’m just gonna’ come out and say it: between the acting and writing quality this feels a lot like a direct-to-DVD movie with decent production value. I enjoyed the film, but it did little to impress and it just doesn’t seem to deserve a theatrical release (and I don’t think it got one). But despite these shortcomings the movie is enjoyable—to men anyway, I’m sure.
You see, Lily spends most of the movie naked. Like, 100% extremely don’t-watch-this-with-your-girlfriend naked. On top of that, and catering to my standard horror hound preferences, she ends up dowsed in the blood of her victims, her monster make-up looks cool (although the CGI bat wings and tail aren’t exactly top notch), and there is a demon sex scene. Bloody breasts and demon sex…isn’t that what horror is all about? LOL.
Horror Romance Sidebar: There’s also something satisfying about romantic connections in horror. In this movie and Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1992), the monster desires a protagonist; in An American Werewolf in Paris (1997), Spring (2014) and Return of the Living Dead Part 3 (1993) the romantic connection is mutual; and Bride of Frankenstein (1935) is considered by many to be the greatest horror sequel of all time.
Look, this film isn’t awesome. It’s not as good as Dante the Great or Amateur Night. But here’s what it is: a satisfying movie for horror hounds with simple taste. People can criticize the “quality of the film.” But that doesn’t strike me as what this was all about. This movie serviced the demand for the story behind Amateur Night’s adorable monster. And in that, it succeeded.