Film Review: SiREN

A modern-day take on mythological sirens who lured men to their deaths with their irresistible song, this horror tale doesn't quite live up to its premise but delivers some lurid shocks.
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Paranormal poobah Mr. Nyx (Justin Welborn, whose hamminess verges on comedy) is called by police to a gruesome murder scene that includes an occult circle drawn in blood on the floor. He correctly surmises that a bunch of amateur occultists paid dearly for summoning something they couldn't control and surreptitiously spirits away that something, a deceptively innocent-looking child.

Years later, world-class bro-hole Mac (Michael Aaron Milligan) arranges a bachelor night out for his best bud, about-to-be-wed Jonah (Chase Williamson) and pals Rand (Hayes Mercure) and Elliott (Randy McDowell). And Mac brings 'shrooms, of which all the guys partake. Unfortunately, their destination—Temptations strip club—leaves a lot to be desired, perhaps because it's in Garden City, New Jersey, which is on no one's list of hottest sin spots on the East Coast.

Fortunately, a stranger at the bar tells Mac he knows a wicked-cool place and can get them in. So they follow him to an isolated mansion where the action does indeed look pretty wild, between the exotic dancer with a spider creeping across her green-tinted belly and an S/M show whose bound-and-flogged victim doesn't sound as though she's screaming with pleasure. Or maybe it's just the psychedelic mushrooms...

Except that Jonah discovers a poor, wide-eyed young woman being held captive in a padlocked room and singing wordlessly. (Imagine Enya at her most plaintive.) There can't be any okay reason why frail-looking Lily (Hannah Fierman) is locked up in a strip club, can there? So Jonah breaks her out and learns that, yes, actually there's a very good reason.

Once upon a time, horror movies were a reliable source of naughty erotic thrills: seductive vampires of both sexes, naked witches, wolfmen and manmade monsters stalking busty victims, and pretty girls showering or skinny-dipping before being slaughtered by psycho-killers. But in 2016 it's hard to top R-rated mainstream nudity/sex scenes, so points to SiREN—an expanded version of the 2012 anthology V/H/S's "Amateur Night" segment—for including a notably outré encounter, even if it's bound to make the average male viewer cringe.

That and a scene involving another anatomically alarming lady aside, SiREN hews close to genre conventions, relying on its increasingly exasperating characters to make one dumb decision after another. It does, however, feature some impressively imaginative creature effects and ends on a nicely nasty note.

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