PrintE-mail Written by Joel Harley

‘The one with the vampire girl’ may not be the best of the short stories from the V/H/S series, but it is the most memorable. Amateur Night (the one with the vampire girl) was the original V/H/S’s crowning glory; blessed with a truly unsettling monster and a final shock which showed that the sky was literally the limit for this franchise. Given the effectiveness of that finale and the bulging creepiness of its creature, it was almost inevitable that the vampire girl would one day return.

And here she is, in Siren, a sequel to/remake of Amateur Night, which gives its bug-eyed beauty a whole ninety minutes with which to toy with her prey. Hannah Fierman returns as ‘Lily’, captured by the malevolent Mr. Nyx (an enjoyably slimy Justin Welborn) and enslaved in his underground strip club. It’s here where Jonah (Chase Williamson) and his stag party find her, doe-eyed and vulnerable. Mistaking Lily for a kidnap victim (which, to be fair, she is), Jonah ‘rescues’ her from her captivity, unwittingly unleashing the Siren upon himself and his friends. And Mr. Nyx isn’t particularly happy about losing his favourite worker, either.

In spite of doing away with Amateur Night’s found footage hook, Siren is every bit as entertainingly schlocky as the short film upon which it is based. Director Gregg Bishop and his writers know full well what audiences want from the film – namely Lily, being weird, scary and naked – and they deliver plenty of it. Fierman’s Lily is used just sparingly enough so as to remain scary, glimpsed mostly in her ‘normal’ human form, or not at all. With the concept being a little on the thin side, Mr. Nyx is employed as a secondary villain, allowing the brilliant Welborn to do much of the heavy lifting when Lily isn’t around. She chews the jugular… um, the scenery.

As though they were also aware that four men at a strip club might not be the most sympathetic or likeable heroes (they certainly weren’t in Amateur Night), the writing unfortunately goes too far in the opposite direction, going so overboard in keeping Jonah honourable and ‘likeable’ that he simply comes across as something of a wet blanket. Aside from his amusing inability to talk dirty to his fiancée, this isn’t played enough for laughs, inadvertently making the time spent with him as intolerable as it would have been were he your typical horror movie chauvinist. Character is not the film’s strong suit.

Luckily, the rest of it is on point. The story is a goofy charm. It’s a little too much like the sci-fi smut Species for comfort, and Lily’s tail and demeanour are uncomfortably reminiscent of the creature from Splice, but the film does a surprisingly good job of not going overboard with the sleaze. Given the naked nature of its creature and cast of blokey stags, it could have gone so horribly wrong (so, okay, maybe milquetoast Jonah is for the best). And most importantly, the shocks and the horror action all work very well – particularly one sequence in which Jonah is abducted by a fully revealed Lily. It’s like a less gross Jeepers Creepers.

Unfortunately, what should be its two best reveals have already been seen and done in Amateur Night - and more effectively, too. Those going in blind will enjoy Siren most of all. If you’ve never seen V/H/S, you’ll have a lot of fun with it, even if its biggest shocker is rendered less exciting with the loss of the found footage conceit.



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