There are a surprising number of good ideas in Gregg Bishop’s SiREN, especially for a film that’s a feature-length adaptation of Amateur Night, one of the short segments from the infamous horror anthology V/H/S (2012). Abandoning the short film’s three-buddies-shoot-an-amateur-porno set-up, Bishop gives his film the framework of a bachelor’s party gone horribly, horribly wrong. But in spite of such clichéd grounding, Bishop manages to create something both compelling and oddly original.
This is nowhere more apparent than Mr. Nyx, one of the most compelling and delightful horror villains in recent memory (I would have named him second only to the Miller from Nick Jongerius’ The Windmill , but that film’s ending ruined any goodwill I had for the character). Sporting John Lennon glasses, a shaggy red goatee, and a cowboy hat, he seems like Daniel Plainview by way of Elton John: a mess of rehearsed mannerisms and clipped speech. Consider the opening scene where he investigates a Satanic ritual gone wrong with a group of cops.
“What are they? Cultists? Satanists?”
Following in the grand tradition of Dr. Loomis from Rob Zombie’s Halloween 2 (2009), Mr. Nyx decides that if he can’t defeat a great evil, he might as well exploit it for money. So he captures the succubus, named “Lily” (Hannah Fierman), and forces her into a sex show he runs out of his countryside mansion. You know…as one does. But things go wrong when the soon-to-be-married Jonah (Chase Williamson) and his bachelor’s party ends up at Mr. Nyx’s doorstep. From there, everything goes to hell: in a moment of conscience, Jonah frees Lily, Lily “imprints” on him, and people are killed, gore effects go flying, and Mr. Nyx gets to ham it up with ridiculous lines like, “Well, my associate is going to hurt you for awhile, and I’m just going to watch.”
But on to more of those aforementioned good ideas that help SiREN rise above the pack of VOD horror. The whole film has a generalized hallucinogenic aspect, particularly in the scenes where Jonah and his friends investigate the mansion and get glimpses into the perverted, blasphemous goings-on in the various rooms. There’s a Medusa-like character capable of stealing people’s memories who repurposes them into drinks at the mansion’s bar (“What’s this drink called?” “Murder.”) And the film doesn’t have a traditional downer ending where everyone dies. Its ending is actually a bit poetic, one of the characters sacrificing themselves to a life of torment for the sake of his loved ones. It’s no masterpiece, but SiREN was better than it had any right to be.