THE LURE (2015)—Hook, Line, and Sink Her

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On this week’s annotated deep dive, The Cultists present Agnieszka Smoczynska’s ‘The Lure’ (2015) (Córki Dancingu). In an alternative 1980s outside of Warsaw, Poland, two mermaids, “Silver” and “Golden,” wash up onto the shore. Soon taking up temporary refuge in a night club cabaret, the two sea-bound sisters do what any classic fairytale finned creature would do: perform nightly as singing mermaid flight attendant burlesque strippers, while trying to decide if people are for sex or for food. Ostensibly a dark coming of age fairy tale set against a gorgeously mixed spread of glitter and grime, The Lure evades any specific genre classification, while taking all the best parts from several: the surrealism logic of fairytales; the metaphors of monstrosity; the glistening gore of body horror; the haunting pitch of minor key musicals; and the carnivorous carnage of romantic tragedy. In other words, this film is weird, which is what makes it wonderful.

Deep Dives for this one include: The biographical basis for the mermaid sisters (from the singing duo, The Wronska Sisters, to the director’s own experiences growing up in the Polish nightlife scene); the Soviet influence on 80’s Polish Cinema; the surprising influences of Polish cartoons and David Cronenberg’s Crash (1995); general mermaid lore; the sex lives of dolphins; and how some of the film’s most raw and jagged parts actually come from Hans Christian Andersen’s 1837 original “Little Mermaid” tale.

Episode Safeword: “pescatarian”

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