The Siren From Perry Blackshear Is a Quiet Screamer - a modern day fable that will rorschach its way into your heart. If only you'll let it.
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I am really really proud of this little website. It’s a monument to heroes in my mind. The true Einsteins and Supermen of the movie industry. And no, I’m not talking about the Zack Snyders, the James Camerons, the fake titans of Hollywood. I’m talking about the REAL titans of the industry. The Eric Heisserer’s, the Christian Papierniak’s, the Travis Milloy’s, the Thomas Woodrow’s, (you sensing I could do this for days yet? because I might…) the Quinn Shephard’s, Kelley Eskridge’s, Steeve Léonard’s, Mike Carey’s, and I’ll stop with the Nathan Williams’. And no, we haven’t even scratched the surface. These are the real geniuses of the movie industry. The fearless ones that have an idea, a great idea, and 20 bucks to their name. And still they fearlessly stare into the gaping maw of public aspersions, and they make their movie anyway. Which, ultimately brings me to MacLeod Andrews, Evan Dumouchel, Margaret Ying Drake, and Perry Blackshear. I’ll get to them in a minute, they though are the ones that brought us They Look Like People, and who brought us today’s movie The Siren. But why do I say that the siren from Perry Blackshear is a quiet screamer? Because it… no. We will hold that answer off until way, way down this page.
They Look Like People was a soul wrenching little film that caught lightning in a bottle for me. It was such a perfect friendship movie that was also crossed with a horror so fierce that it was hard to decide which was which. And this quatro made this movie on the fly. It was really amazing what they were able to accomplish. And today they are bringing us a just released psychic soulmate of a film, but this time it’s packaged in the guise of a creature horror flick. If you haven’t seen it yet, have some trailer…
But hear me here – this movie will not be for everyone. If you are not in a patient mood…just walk away from this movie. If you don’t think you can handle a really low budget attempt at a movie about a siren, a woman tortured into murdering anyone that comes near her, then please, for the sake of our friendship…just move along. Because I really found this to be an achingly beautiful film. No, the editing wasn’t perfect. Yes, they could have done with a bit of a CGI backstop to help with some of the transitions and explanations. But I am going to just give this quatro a mulligan on all of that. And just swallow – hook, line, and sinker – what these guys are willing to sell me. Why? Because Blackshear will always choose heart and passion over CGI and expertly crafted edits. So, yeah, I am going to give this movie a solid 4.0 out of 5.0, and I will not tolerate crap about it.
Alright, if you haven’t seen the film yet, you can catch it over at Apple’s movie store. Maybe there are other places to watch it, but I haven’t found another place that has it yet. So, after you’ve taken a moment out, and watched this stunning little film, come on back and we can talk about it together.
The Siren Movie Walkthrough
The movie opens with a quote from Nietzsche, which, I will always, ALWAYS be a sucker for: “That which is done out of love always takes place beyond good and evil.” And with that, we launch into the film The Siren. The setup of the Siren is simple enough. The layout of the film comes from our three characters:
Nina – “The legend of the rusalka – begins her life as an ordinary woman. But one day, while lovesick, she drowns in a body of water. She wakes up transformed, a living ghost. A siren, trapped in the lake in which she died. And she is cursed with an unholy want to drown anyone that comes near her again.” In Slavic folklore, the rusalka (plural: rusalki) (Russian: русалка, romanized: rusalka; Polish: rusałka) is a female entity, often malicious toward mankind and frequently associated with water. Nina, apparently, is our rusalka.
Al – An individual who suffers a heartbreaking loss. Apparently his husband has fairly recently died, via drowning, while swimming in the lake. Certain something untoward has happened, and he realizes that this rusalkan woman/beast has killed his husband. He determines that he is going to execute his revenge and destroy her.
Tom – A mute, seeking retreat, heads out for a respite on the lake where all of this back story has been unfolding. Tom seems to be fleeing a hyper-religious, maybe even cult-like group that seems to be keeping tabs on his every move. Our Tom, meets Nina, and for the first time in his life, falls in love.
Triangles are the perfect story setup criteria. I mean, look at the musical Les Misérables and the gorgeous setup that happens several times throughout. We have two different trios in the musical (and the book), and they embark in just some of the most glorious music, but it’s because the music comes from the harmony and discord that come from love, and unrequited love. So, right, back to this story we have a trio. A beautiful demon. A desperately in love innocent. And a man hellbent on the demon’s destruction. I mean, game this out, the interactions and the potential here are limitless. Does the revenge laden widower kill the monster? Or does he ultimately fall in love with her? Or the innocent? Does he come to terms with his butterflies, come to his senses and run? Or maybe he rapturously falls in love with her, only to be murdered like a string of victims before him. And the demon? Does she murder them both? Or find redemption in their love? The synergies that are at work here are near infinite. But, seeing as though this is a modern myth, a fable – if you will, the possible lessons that are being shared with us are nearly infinite as well.
The Conclusion of Blackshear’s The Siren
As the movie unfolds, the men slowly realize who Nina is. The monster she really is. At first Al believes he is overreacting. Heck, maybe he’s slowly going insane as a result of his husband’s death. But soon both men realize that Nina is in fact a rusalka. A demon woman hellbent on destruction. But when she finds out that Al knows (in a fairly clumsy way – they both are wearing the same necklace) what she did, Nina tells him that he really needs to run.
Similarly, Tom also has a progression of responses to all things Nina. At first he is intrigued there is a woman that is just randomly swimming the lake. Then he is 100% smitten. And at that point Nina almost drowns him, but pulls up at the last second. Think about it, Tom is a mute because of an accident he had in the water way back in his youth. As a result, Tom is dreadfully afraid of the water. The funny thing is, his reason for being afraid of the water is because of Nina. Right? She is the epitome of water fear. And yet he trusts himself to be taught to swim by a rusalka?? Hahahah.
And when this all boils to a head – Tom knows what she is. That she kills everyone she can, and that she simply can’t control it. Al knows she’s a siren, and that she killed his husband – a man that he still talks to in his mind. And who he has to vow never to think about again because the thought of him is breaking him completely. So here we are – with Nina at the center. One man is hopelessly smitten. The other is hellbent on her destruction. And the entirety of the film balances here precariously. Will Tom abandon the land of men, and take to the lake to join her? Will Al get his wish to kill this murderous woman? Well, none of these things actually.
After Tom and Nina spend an evening together. Al takes his chance to lock Tom up and bash Nina’s head in with a sledge hammer. Which, he does. Congratulations Al! Tom, to his own physical detriment, breaks free of the handcuffs, and gets there just after Al crushes her head in. He is obviously distraught. The only girl he’s ever loved rusalka or not, just died. Only, she didn’t die, and supernaturally, she leaps up and tackles Al into the water. And there he dies a horrible death under the water. But where does that leave Tom? He’s cool with the murderous rampage thing…really he is! Come back! And for the remainder of the movie, Tom is desperate for more of that rusalka crack. GAHHHHH! COME BACK!
But she doesn’t. Worse, the moment he packs his bags and leaves – she materializes out of the water, and watches him as he leaves. Wait – what? What does that mean? Well, uhm, brick head, it means that she loved him, and sent him away to protect his life. You got this, correct? Please tell me that makes sense to you.
The Fable Insights of The Siren
The movie opens telling the story of a myth. Which, literally means, this is a myth. This story is the story of a fable…which, if you think about it, by definition, makes this a fable too. See, when you say, I once read about a giant gollum come to life…and then you later tell me you just met a gollum, you are telling me that this is story time. Makes sense? So, if our movie is actually a fable – a story – a myth, then what is the myth about? What is the life lesson here?
Well – practically – the first life lesson is EASILY, don’t mess with a rusalka. Just don’t.
The second life lesson might very well be about grief and vendettas. Just don’t. You have to figure out how to let those vendettas go. They won’t do you, or us, any good.
The third life lesson could possibly be something about corrupting demons in our lives. Be careful when you are fleeing one horrible influence, that you aren’t consumed by an even worse one somewhere else.
And finally, the last life lesson, could be that even the hardest, worst, and most terrible stone cold killers might just have room in their hearts to love. But don’t expect them to be able to hold the demons back forever.
But ultimately the movie is about love, loss, and longing. And it was all these things simultaneously and separately. It was transcendent. And if you didn’t like it – this is one of those times you need to slow down and really consider what you are missing. Don’t just keep hammering the point home that reviewers are idiots. That only works for so long. Just stop, consider what this movie is talking about. Consider how it makes you feel. And really investigate what it is you think you are saying when you say you don’t like it. Because really? Something else is going on here chief.
Final Thoughts on the Film The Siren
Blackshears has brought us another epic film. His first film I reviewed here, They Look Like People, was so full tilt, stark raving insane, and so counter-cultural, it instantly ended up on my top 10 movies of all time list. And my interview with MacLeod Andrews and Evan Dumouchel talking about their part in the film only cemented my perspective on the film. I will literally buy anything they put out. I’ll purchase videos of them reading the newspaper (sounds a little kinky actually – woah! hahaha. It’s not like that.).
The Siren is fantastic. Grok this movie and you will be instantly blessed in the groking.