Two lovers park their scooter atop a bluff on a starlit summer night. They embrace in the glow of the single headlight. She backs away just long enough to remove her flimsy tank top. They embrace again, until . . . He stops. Becomes distracted. He walks towards the cliff’s edge as though in a trance. Walks to the edge and then off, plunging into the inky ocean depths below. She screams for help. Stunned, terrified, topless. Someone is coming. This man whose face we can’t see, but whose mucky boots and giant, grappling hook on a chain can only mean reprieve for our nubile damsel. Wow, that hook was sharp. Wow, that’s a lot of blood. She’s probably not going to make it . . .
Welcome to Killer Mermaid, the action of which takes us to the azure waters of Montenegro. Kelly and Lucy are vacationing with Alex – an old college friend and Lucy’s old college flame. Lucy (Natalie Burn) is a 10-out-of-10 and, with the exception of some impressively small swimwear, always dresses like a backup dancer in an ‘80s music video. Remember Jem? Lucy is a Hologram. Kelly (Kristina Klebe) is a laconic thing who’s married to her Workberry and probably needs Lucy’s help to get into clubs. And then, there’s Alex: a hot, bald, Serbian fellow played by the hot, bald, Serbian actor Slobodan Stefanovic. The action gets awkward when we meet Alex’s *gasp* fiancee Yasmin (Sofija Rajovic), and awkwarder when she tries to pry into Alex n’ Lucy’s past, but they come to understand each other, forging friendships through dancing, boating, and swimming montages.
But, this trip ain’t all sunshine and bikinis. The guy with the dirty shoes and the impaling weapon is still lurking around corners, grappling the jugulars of distracted young townsmen. Plus: our friends – with the late addition of Boban (Dragan Micanovic) – get hip to a new place to explore: an abandoned island prison. Suddenly, as though he’s been watching them all this time, a mysterious Old Timer (Franco Nero!) appears to provide a compelling recommendation against their visiting the creepy island bunker. He cites a gruesome history, a lengthy list of atrocities committed within those walls. “So much blood,” he says. “Stay away from there,” he says. So, of course, they go. Because, what? There’s a killer mermaid hiding within those sinister walls?
No, really. Where is the mermaid? We’re halfway through Killer Mermaid and yet . . .
Killer Mermaid is so much fun. Without taking things too seriously, and with great respect for probable budgetary constraints, director Milan Todorovic gives us a decently thrilling haunted house -slash- monster movie. He effectively captures the contrasting tones of young, beautiful people with the doom and gloom of a place where evil lurks. That prison place in Serbia – it’s real, and its history is not so different from the one described in the film.
We don’t watch films like Killer Mermaid for the acting or graceful storytelling. We do watch for the moment when the dirty boot guy sits in his underground workshop, patiently sharpening his human-sized fishhook. And, for the effectively claustrophobic flashlights-in-dark-hallways chase scenes where we don’t really even know what they’re running from. One of Mermaid’s more impressive accomplishments lies in the tasteful application and execution (ha!) of violence and gore. Things get pretty gross, but gross to the tune of good, clean horror content. We see just enough to understand what’s happening and – even better – to maybe imagine something worse than what they’d actually show us.
Killer Mermaid affirms that you don’t need a million CGIs, or a 5-act, 200-minute storyline to make things scary. When the mermaid finally appears – and she does – she looks good. It reminds us that sometimes, the most important thing is the simplest: a perfectly executed tail.
Killer Mermaid will be released on September 9, 2014.