31 Days of Hell: The Mermaid's Song (2018) - Reviewed

Nothing make us horror fiends perk up better than hearing that a beloved Hans Christian Anderson fairy tale had been delightfully tarnished by a horror adaptation. When the film announces that it boasts the villainous Iwan Rheon from Game of Thrones, are we completely sold on the project. Imagine the surprise when The Mermaid's Song (a.k.a. Charlotte’s Song) falls short of the expectation.

Set in the 1930’s Dustbowl, the setting intrigues as we meet teenager Charlotte, who learns that she, like her mother, is a mermaid of all things! Loosely based on The Little Mermaid – and I mean ‘loosely’ – Charlotte and her sisters try to help their father survive the financial devastation of the time by putting on stage shows to bring in more customers to his bar. Charlotte discovers that her voice is capable of controlling the emotions and actions of mortals, which she uses while performing with her sisters.

Smells like fish in here! I'm gonna puke. 

Although the acting is good and the milieu is pleasantly accurate, the story falls so far from the fairy tale, that one almost believes the meager references to the mermaid phenomenon was only employed to set Mermaid's Song apart form all the other releases.

The film’s indecision as to what it wants to be is a real disappointment, but not surprising, given it was written collectively by no less than four writers. There is no sense of direction in the storyline and it leaves us feeling that this was a missed opportunity to really scrutinize the fascinating lore of the mermaid.

Overall, the rather weak story concentrates more on Charlotte’s brutal coming-of-age predicament than the terrifying prospects of the supernatural element. The mermaid creature itself is hardly more than an overdone monster which again, could have blossomed into something frighteningly beautiful. Instead, the film throws you around from a drama about hard times to a timid attempt to scare.

Technically, the film is stunning. D├ęcor, landscapes and editing lends beautifully to the mysticism of the subject and director Nicholas Humphries does a fine job at capturing the era and atmosphere of the setting. Of course, Rheon delivers as the conniving Randall, a Mephistophelian character that possesses his own charm – in the magical sense. With young Katelyn Mager in the role of Charlotte, the two dance well and keep the audience engaged, but to what exactly, we do not know.

It's a party. With a mermaid. WTF?!!!

Still, Mermaid's Song sings its own siren’s call to the audience, enthralling us in hopes of an escalating plot that would reach a monstrous climax. The latter drowns us, however. It helps to be a good swimmer, because you can hold your breath throughout the film for some powerful high-point that never comes, at least for what you think you expect. If you enjoy some good characters played by decent actors, good pace and scenery, it is a sound film to spend two hours on.

Mermaid's Song is a magnificently shot film with haunting imagery and music, which in itself, makes it worth at least one watch.

--Tasha Danzig