@MsLauraHall gets drawn in by the siren sounds of the Killer Mermaid…
From Attack of the Killer Tomatoes to Killer Klowns from Outer Space, I have a lot of time for “Killer + unusual noun” formula movies. Which is probably why Killer Mermaid is such a disappointment. Far from the campy fun of its “Killer” cousins, Killer Mermaid has more in common with fellow Serbian export A Serbian Film. That is not to say that Killer Mermaid is a torture porn film. What I mean is that it’s just plain torture. How else would you describe the abject agony of watching a film that’s called “Killer Mermaid” when the killer mermaid doesn’t show up for over an hour?
Her absence isn’t for artistic reasons. This is no homage to Jaws. She’s just not about. In her absence we instead get The Real Housewives of Serbia. Kelly and Lucy have come to visit Alex. Lucy fancies Alex but Alex is engaged to Yasmin. This doesn’t stop him sleeping with Lucy anyway while the audience loses the will to live. There is something mildly diverting about the Eastern European feel of it all; Alex’s idea of a compliment is asking Kelly is she’s had a boob job. But none of it goes anywhere or has any bearing on the rest of the film.
That’s the first 30 minutes. We then spend the next half an hour watching the tedious protagonists run away from an old man who looks like he just got a bit confused and could really do with a nice cup of tea. He’s in cahoots with the mermaid. I can only assume there was not plenty more fish in the sea if he was the most viable henchman she could catch.
The film tries to be part slasher, part creature feature, but the old guy really is too feeble for the slasher element of the film to be interesting. You wonder why the strapping young cast don’t just overpower him.
Then we finally get to titular title character. The film does her no favours by taking place primarily on dry land. This means she has to do lot of awkward writhing about, which takes any potential mystery or menace away. It also means she is pretty easy to avoid. One character says, “I don’t want to die!”. Well, good. Go home, put your feet up and maybe don’t go on any canal holidays any time soon. The mermaid also poses virtually no threat to half the cast of the film as her siren’s charms don’t work on women. Way to reinforce heteronormativity, Killer Mermaid.
However, the film is not without its wonky charms. I loathe the contrived camp of films like the Piranha franchise; films that operate under the assumption that it’s OK to be unfunny and cheap as long as you do it “knowingly”. Cynical crap is still crap. Parody exploitation boobs are still exploitation boobs. With this in mind, it’s rather refreshing to see a high concept horror executed with a relatively straight face. This is epitomised perhaps by the “What The F*ck?” appearance of the amazing Franco Nero. The Django actor turns up to deliver some exposition – and it is the best part of the film. His gravitas perhaps reflects the essence of what the film was trying to achieve; to deliver a high concept horror with some atmosphere.
If only the filmmakers had focused more on the mermaid rather than the tiresome protagonists. Audiences have seen boring love triangles, silly slashers and pouty nymphs before – but what they haven’t seen is a truly “killer” Mermaid. And that’s a fact that remains unchanged when the credits roll.