Five Nasty Killer Mermaid Movies To Help Soak Up Summer
The horror genre could use more killer mermaids. As fantasy and horror continue to intersect, it’s never been a better time to dig deep into the mermaid mythos. After all, bigfoot horror is a genre unto itself—why can’t the same be said for mermaids? With their origins in the Greek sirens (originally depicted as human-headed birds) and the Middle Eastern Kulullû, there is plenty of mythology at play. While I demand the powers at be give me more mermaid horror, here, we’ll be looking at five of the best presently available.
Milan Todorovic’s Killer Mermaid is a jet-setting aquatic slasher with plenty of bite. Two young women on a dream Mediterranean vacation encounter more than they bargained for after uncovering the lair of a vicious siren. Their trip becomes a fight for survival rooted in the siren lore of old. It’s considerably more involved than it sounds, equal parts thought-provoking and frightening. It’s a grand ol’ time, one of the strongest cases that mermaid horror is supreme. Watch it here.
Sebastian Gutierrez’s She Creature isn’t just an underrated aquatic horror gem—it’s one of this century’s best early surprises. Rya Kihlstedt’s mermaid is captured for transport to America, the intent being to prop her up as some kind of carnival exhibit. Carla Gugino’s Lily is the creature’s sole source of support, and She Creature is just as much a tragic queer romance as it is an out-and-out horror movie. The horror doesn’t skimp, either, with She Creature delivering the requisite goods in a blood-soaked, sea-faring finale.
Lady in the Water
Time has been kind to M. Night Shyamalan’s Lady in the Water. Sure, his water nymph fable is mostly incredulous (and a little self-aggrandizing), but Bryce Dallas Howard stuns as the titular lady, with the remainder of the cast gamely leaning into Shyamalan’s humanistic instincts. It’s stylish, weird, and worth a look whether or not you’re a Shyamalan buff. It’s not his strongest offering by any stretch, but it’s the work of a singular filmmaker, and that’s often enough to make its weirder beats worth enduring. Water nymphs save the world, after all.
Mermaid: Lake of the Dead
Mermaid: Lake of the Dead is a mess in the best possible way. It’s Saturday night cheese. B-movie bliss. Some of the best fun you’ll have with killer mermaids this side of, well, Killer Mermaid. In Svjatoslav Podgajevskij’s Russian fairytale, a mermaid falls in love with a man, inciting doomed romance and plenty of carnage as it unfurls. It looks incredible, too, though audiences would be advised to avoid the dubbed version. There’s just a bit too much cheese there. It’s nonetheless a fascinating foray into the legends of the Rusalkas, the Slavic iteration of mermaids. Unmarried girls drown and turn into evil mermaids. That’s metal as heck, and Mermaid: Lake of the Dead does the myth justice.
Agnieszka Smoczyńska’s The Lure wasn’t selected for the Criterion Collection for nothing. This musical horror hybrid hails from Poland and is unlike anything you’ve seen before. Loosely adapting Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Little Mermaid,” two siren sisters form the titular act “The Lure” while performing at nightclubs in the 1980s. Part body horror, part romance, all goth opera, The Lure is a masterpiece waiting to be discovered.
If those aren’t enough, might I recommend 2020’s Mermaid Isle? How about 2019’s The Mermaid’s Curse? Xavier Gens Cold Skin isn’t quite mermaids, but it’s outstanding literary adaptation with fantastic creature design. Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead’s Spring also isn’t strictly speaking mermaids, but it’s arguably the most romantic horror movie ever made about aquatic monster love. Or, if mermen are more your speed, watch Best Picture winner The Shape of Water. I mean, the seas are positively swimming with killer mermaids.
What do you think? Are you a fan of mermaid horror? What’s your favorite? Let me know over on Twitter @Chadiscollins.