SIREN (2016)

Review by Derrick Carter

Running Time: 1 hour 22 minutes

MPAA Rating: Not Rated

Directed by: Gregg Bishop

Written by: Ben Collins & Luke Piotrowski

Starring: Chase Williamson, Hannah Fierman, Justin Welborn, Hayes Mercure, Michael Aaron Milligan, Randy McDowell & Lindsey Garrett

A segment from 2012’s handheld horror anthology V/H/S gets the feature-length treatment in SIREN. The original short’s was AMATEUR NIGHT and it was easily one of the best segments of the first V/H/S. A feature length treatment sounds like an interesting idea and Gregg Bishop (director of DANCE OF THE DEAD) was a good choice to helm this film. Though it’s not nearly up to the level of its source material, SIREN is a decent mixture of fantasy and horror that should satisfy viewers who want an entertaining thrill.

Jonah (Chase Williamson), who’s getting married in a week’s time, is in for one hell of a crazy bachelor party with his brother Mac (Michael Aaron Milligan), groomsman Randy McDowell (Randy McDowell), and best friend Rand (Hayes Mercure). After the first strip club turns out to be a comical disappointment, Jonah and his boys follow a stranger to a weird club in the middle of nowhere. Run by the intimidating Nyx (Justin Welborn), this club promises all sorts of strange pleasures…including a beautiful prisoner (Hannah Fierman) locked in a cage. Being a nice guy, Jonah sets the woman free…only to discover that she’s a bloodthirsty siren and she likes him. Nyx wants his sexy creature back and Jonah wants to be rid of his monstrous new mate. Is there any way of this sticky (from blood) situation?

SIREN sees Hannah Fierman, who starred in the original V/H/S short, returning as the titular hungry succubus. She pretty much plays her part to perfection as this sexy, dangerous creature. The film does a remarkably effective job of making her a sympathetic monster, even though she does use her song to control those around her and tends to kill people in horrible ways. This was quite the accomplishment for Fierman (as the actress) and Gregg Bishop (as the director).

If only the same could be said for Jonah and his pals. Chase Williamson is okay enough as the good guy protagonist, but his friends and brother are simply one-note dude-bros. Sure that was the case in the original V/H/S segment, but we only had to put up with those assholes and their inane antics for 10 minutes before they were all horribly slaughtered. The film’s new addition is Justin Welborn as voodoo pimp Nyx and he’s a blast to watch. There’s something instantly charismatic about Welborn’s charming antagonist, but he’s more than intimidating as he uses dark hocus pocus to manipulate those around him.

The film’s plot packs in a couple of neat surprises, particularly during its final scenes, but remains predictable in most areas. We know that Jonah will want to escape the winged, tailed beastie and that Nyx will likely do bad magical things to get his “property” back. The film does takes a tad too long in its initial set-up, leaving barely enough room for the plot to venture outside the viewer’s expectations. I will praise the hell out of the ending, but getting to the main creature feature and voodoo antics takes a while.

SIREN also suffers from stylistic problems and mixed bag effects. There are a couple of slow-motion hallway running bits in Nyx’s club that come off as laughably over-the-top. While there are a few nice pieces of practical gore on display, the film needlessly uses cheap CGI in places. The siren’s wings and tail look very corny, especially when we constantly see the tail moving back and forth. This all being said, SIREN’s kills are pretty cool. One particularly cool demise shines as the best death in the entire movie (you’ll know it when it arrives) and a diner sequence is bloody bonkers.

SIREN has lots of flaws. The effects are frequently corny, the characters are mostly unlikable, and the overall story is predictable. This all being said, I still had fun with this film as an entertaining blend of horror and fantasy. Is it as good as AMATEUR NIGHT in V/H/S? Absolutely not. Is it an enjoyable time as its own film? Yep. If this sounds like something you’d be interested in, then you’re bound to have some fun with it. If this doesn’t sound like your thing, then you’ll probably dislike it.

Grade: B-

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