Tuesday, November 29, 2016

SiREN: Lily the Demon Returns

Seriously, the last time a movie bachelor party ended with everyone happy, it probably starred Tom Hanks and Tawny Kitaen. This will be no exception. A demon like Lily (a.k.a. Lilith) is uniquely suited to punish the kind of boorish horndog behavior often witnessed during stag nights. You will remember her and her eerily wide eyes from the “Amateur Night” story arc in the original V/H/S film. Lily is back, so no lecherous men are safe in Gregg Bishop’s SiREN (note the capitalization, trailer here), which opens this Friday in New York.

Jonah felt duty-bound to make his ragingly irresponsible brother Mac his best friend rather than his real best friend Rand. That is how they wound up in a divey strip club on the Redneck Riviera. On a tip from a suspicious fellow patron, Mac drags the stag party to an Eyes Wide Shut-style sex club way out in the sticks. This seems to be more what he had in mind, except maybe too much so. Still, the four dudes probably could have made it out unscathed if Jonah had not decided to play hero.

He is convinced Lily, the peepshow girl, whose song can literally you-know-what with your mind is being held there against her will, as is indeed the case. However, he does not realize she is a demon. Much like the “Howling Man” episode of The Twilight Zone, Jonah and his friends will have to deal with the implications of his actions, but for them it will be far more personal. Mr. Nyx, the flamboyant club proprietor well-versed in the occult is much less forgiving than John Carradine’s Brother Jerome. On the other hand, Lily rather takes a shine to Jonah, in a demons-mate-for-life kind of way.

Frankly, the non-found footage SiREN is not nearly as intense as the constituent anthology film that spawned it. While it lacks the Poe-like concentration of mood and building intensity, the feature is more about attitude and grungy southern-fried exploitation elements. There is also some very strange business having to do with the transference of memories (both as a method of payment at the club and a means of sending Jonah a message he will never forget) that distinguishes SiREN from other seductive succubus films.

SiREN is fortunate to have Hannah Fierman reprising the role of Lily. She is massively fierce, but also weirdly vulnerable. Justin Welborn (Southbound and V/H/S Viral) also has a creepy Paul Williams-from-Hell thing going on as Mr. Nyx that fits right in with the film’s dramatic tone. Brittany S. Hall is sufficiently intriguing and genre-friendly as Ash, the Medusa-haired memory-extracting bartender Ash, she could conceivably takeover the pseudo-franchise. Plus, Chase Williamson (John Dies at the End) and Hayes Mercure make surprisingly compelling average Joes in over their heads.

Fierman is just an electric presence, who powers the film through a swampy mid-section. We have seen most of these elements before, but she is something else. Recommended for fans of Fierman and her V/H/S character, SiREN opens this Friday (12/2) in New York, at the Cinema Village.