Immune to her charm.
Siren tells the tale of Leigh (Vinessa Shaw), a young woman gifted – or rather cursed – with a powerful pheromone that makes men see her as the love of their life. She lives in self-imposed seclusion within the woods of her small town, visited only by unwanted suitors, until one day a mysterious war veteran named Guy (Robert Krazinksy) wanders onto her property. Somehow immune to her scent, Leigh offers Guy a place to stay – knowing his talents may come in hand with malevolent forces looming.
One area where Siren wholly succeeds is its creation of a fairy tale in modern times. Leigh lives in the prototypical woods that could come from any classic fairy tale; her surroundings take on a dreamlike quality through expert lighting and handheld camerawork. Several other fable-esque images pop up throughout the film, including, but not limited to cauldrons, hooded robes, and candy. The title of the film itself even conjures up the notion of Sirens from Greek mythology – beautiful and irresistible creatures that lured sailors to their deaths.
A noble and interesting concept, Siren sadly fumbles its execution. The film oscillates between Leigh’s struggle as a pariah from the town, and her fear of the ominous Circe Corporation – who wants to study and sell her “essence” for personal gain. Dropping the Circe storyline entirely and focusing solely upon Leigh’s effect on this small town would have gone a long way towards preserving Siren’s otherworldly feel, which it loses whenever it gets bogged down in science.
Not that the film ever spends too much time focusing on the antagonistic forces – entirely too much time is spent focusing on the burgeoning romance between Guy and Leigh, but it’s never all that interesting. Throughout much of the second act, very little happens that drives the plot forward. Leigh’s interest in Guy becomes apparent early in the film, so after a while these flirtatious scenes become repetitive and tiresome. With multiple antagonists established early on, we see immediately that this is not a straightforward love story, so the lack of any real tension during the second act represents a missed opportunity.
Exacerbating this problem, the performances leave quite a bit to be desired. Vinessa Shaw does an effective job of portraying Leigh in her scared, fragile moments, but will change to a happy-go-lucky demeanor on a dime. Nothing about her acceptance of Guy on her property feels organic; she has spent her entire adult life fearing the advances of men – he may not immediately seem threatening, but you don’t just turn that off. She also gets some of the stiffest lines in an already lackluster script. Some lines, such as, “sometimes I hold my breath to get away from myself for a moment,” are just laughable. Conversely, Guy comes off as somewhat creepy once we as an audience realize how poorly socialized Leigh truly is – his constant, prolonged gaze does him no favors. The two simply lack chemistry that the film constantly tries to assert that they have together.
Conceptually, Siren could have turned into a much more interesting film. With such a sound concept, director Jesse Peyronel could have constructed an interesting story based around classic fairy tale archetypes. Sadly, weak performances and an even weaker script prevent the film from ever achieving that potential.