Freeform’s Siren Presents Mermaids with Bite

SIREN – “The Lure” – Ben and crew of The North Star uncover a device emitting a strange sound, meanwhile Ryn finds shelter in the home of the local folklore expert. This episode of “Siren” airs Thursday, March 29 (9:01 – 10:02 p.m. EDT) on Freeform. (Freeform) SIBONGILE MLAMBO

Mentioning Disney’s Freeform channel doesn’t immediately give horror fans inspiration to scan listings and see what new programming they may be cooking up, but I’ve been surprised by genre offerings made by seemingly innocuous channels before (flashback to “Teen Wolf” on MTV…which was fairly decent!), and so, I keep an eye out. “Siren” was a show that didn’t even hit my radar (I promise…not a water joke) while walking the floor at New York Comic Con, where the cast and crew were on hand! I’ve got no one to blame for that oversight but my snobby Big Trouble in Little China loving self, so I sought to square things by watching the first three episodes of the show. Would there be pain? Tears? Would I curse Creepy’s name as I did every time they made me watch a Twilight movie? Let’s find out.

Bristol Cove sounds like the kind of place lustful elitists might war with equally lustful, quirky townsfolk in a daytime soap opera. In “Siren”, it’s the setting for a slow burn creature feature that comes out of the gate with government abductions and a mermaid with a taste for rapey rednecks. …Are stereotypical hicks that live by the ocean still called rednecks? Do we call them “waterdicks”? I’ll have to Google this later.

Our lead mermaid (Eline Powell) is drawn to the town in search of another mermaid plucked from the depths, first, accidentally by a fishing trawler, and shortly after, on purpose by an unnamed government agency who just happened to know the exact time to drop in. The town is already known for its mermaid legends, with children raised on stories told by a local shopkeeper (played by Rena Ownen). Now, rich kid turned protector of sea life Ben Pownall (Alex Roe) winds up with the genuine article in his arms, and if he’s not careful, she’ll rip off those arms and beat him with them! Bet you didn’t see that coming?

While “Siren” does have some very expected plot developments unfolding with family drama, old friends grown apart and relationships on odd footing, I’m still finding myself drawn to the unfolding plot…and an unspoken promise that there are more flesh-hungry mermaids out there…a LOT of them. Without spoiling too much, Ryn (mermaid #2) comes on land looking for abducted mermaid #1 and her acclimation to having legs and dealing with those who dwell on the land is a little rockier than a Disney animated film. She’s taken in by the previously mentioned shopkeeper, Helen, and Ben, who are constantly just struggling to keep Ryn from going on a rampage. With super strength on her side and the threat that sea water will turn her into fully clawed, fully fanged, full-on monster who views people as food, keeping her calm and in doors tends to be a priority. Meanwhile mermaid #1 is being tested on, but even while captive she seems to have plans for escape.

It’s all played the emotional weight it should have and most of the characters are so likable, you’ll find yourself hooked fairly quickly. Hell, even Ryn hissing at people constantly is oddly endearing! You WILL laugh at the way they handle the “siren song” power these mermaids possess, but they don’t overuse it, so the groan-to-smile ratio will remain low.

I find people’s expectation of a Freeform show are much like their predisposed thoughts on MTV doing “Teen Wolf”. While MTV did make sure to milk every shirtless moment they could out of all their actors, Freeform doesn’t constantly scream “This is for a young audience!” It can get a tiny bit sexy, but it’s played well. What you’ll find in “Siren” is a tight, moody, slow burn monster movie. Pop in for the above average acting and stay for the (alluded to) promise of a sea creature vs human war! Will it happen? My fingers are crossed!

New episodes of “Siren” are broadcasting on Freeform now. Check local listings for times and dates.



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