SiREN grows upon the mythology created in a segment in anthology film, V/H/S. The segment plays well at the beginning of the feature film and creates a deep mythology already and eludes to it as little as possible in its brief running-time. This time, director Gregg Bishop has a full feature-length to play with in his mythology, reinventing the world and bringing new characters with a similar dynamic to the segment itself. Amateur Night, the title of the segment, had promise for an expansion it seemed. Sadly, the feature film proves otherwise with all of the exhilaration and interest of the succinct short, evaporating as it lingers along.
A bachelor party, like in the short, are looking for the best night of their lives. When it seems their prayers are answered when they’re invited into an underground club, their scepticism trumps their idealism. Especially when groom-to-be has a private show by the titular siren, singing her song and dragging him under. From there, it is about freeing a dangerous demonic succubus and the chase from the Wiccan club owner, coming back for his star attraction.
What seems to be the most prevalent criticism of SiREN is it fails to capitalise on the segment that nailed it. The story is tight, action-packed, characters defined well-enough and so on. All of that describes Amateur Night, not SiREN. The characters are the same from the short but there’s inadequate exploration and any attempt at actual character excavation yields disappointing results. These are placeholders that are only there to service the star attraction, of the club and the film.
The return of Hannah Fierman is the best part of the film, nailing her child-like naïveté and cruel animal instincts with apparent ease. The duality of the character is interesting, a little well-worn with tales spanning centuries. Other characters fill space and the antagonist is hokey, its sincerity coming across as hyperactive and cartoonish.
Where SiREN really disappoints is that it’s not scary. For a segment that thrilled as well as shook up, the extension carries none of that. Found footage lent itself well to the terror, putting us with the characters and in jeopardy with them. The cinematography here is mostly clean, but its cleanliness comes from a camera too crisp for the production design. It highlights the cheapness of it with no standout shots and some poor colourisation that takes away from its professional production by looking like a skipped process.
What SiREN could have been is in Amateur Night. A tight segment that is one of the standouts and kicks off the anthology well. Instead, this lags along, limping itself to the finish line lacklustrely. For all that SiREN could have been, there is the previous incarnation staring you in the face, pointing out its mistakes by failing to follow the same style and quality that should be on display here. Apart from the standout performance by Fierman, there is nothing above average on display here. This horror-thriller will hold your attention, but not your memory.