Film Review of Mermaid’s Song by Zobo With a Shotgun
Mermaids are somewhat an enigma when it comes to the film world… They can be considered as a beauty to behold, or a siren call that will viciously destroy men with the sound of their song. Regardless of how they are depicted, mermaids have only really seemed popular in Disney’s classic The Little Mermaid but recently came back into frame with Guillermo Del Toro’s haunting love story The Shape of Water. And now everyone wants to jump on the mermaid scene, including the most recent horror film Mermaid’s Song.
Set during the 1930’s depression, the film tells the tale of a struggling family business with a father sinking into debt and despair as he tries to provide for his family. When a gangster, Randall, promises the father that he can pay off their debts, it’s not long until he accepts but starts to force his daughters into prostitution to make more money for the business. Youngest daughter Charlotte is bewildered by her father’s behaviour, and watches as her sisters are put through hell. Charlotte soon begins to be a subject of these nasty men and their wants but discovers she has the same condition as her mother; she is a mermaid and can control others minds.
A Mermaid’s Song has been described by many as a horror-esque homage to Hans Christian Anderson’s A Little Mermaid, and although it does have the fishy vibes that the Disney film does, it’s not quite the love story that Anderson told. This film focuses on how the 30’s depression damaged good people and had an adverse effect on family businesses, which led to awful decisions being made. Father George (Brendan Taylor) loves his daughters immensely but becomes besotted with drink and the need to keep their family afloat, which means he ends up renting his daughters out for money without thinking about their wellbeing and how it will damage them. These dealings with awful men who just want to satisfy their needs are seen through the eyes of young Charlotte (Katelyn Mager), who understands that what is happening to her family is all due to the sly Randall, played by Game of Throne’s Iwan Rheon.
Although the story comes across as a little pretentious due to the mermaid aspect, it’s heart lies in a good place and comes from telling a deeper story of horror. However, once Charlotte succumbs to her mermaid tendencies and realises the power she holds, the violent revenge that she takes on Randall, his men and her own father, is a delight for the viewer to see after being privy to how these men treated all the women as toys to play with. Charlotte could be seen as a young mermaid feminist, that uses her immense control to ensure her sisters are set free of the evil curse of men that their father has put on them.
A harrowing tale of the devastating effects of depression on a family business, the downward spiral of a father in despair and the power of females to stop atrocious men. Mermaid’s Song is a siren song with hidden messages to be discovered.