Siren is probably one of the most beautifully shot American indie films to come out this year which is also harrowingly sleek and violent. The last showing for the Cine Excess Festival, and slightly less violent as its predecessors, it was all the more pleasant to end on this high.
The film follows the life of Leigh played by Vinessa Shaw, a woman who emits a scent which drives men to crazily fall in love with her. When they see her they don’t see Leigh but their own wonder woman in place of her, each man seeing a different woman in her, and all fall deadly lovesick for her leading to disastrous consequences both comic but disgusting too as we see with Carl (played by Ross Partridge). We see Leigh trapped in a house by herself, trying to keep tabs on potential visitors through her vast surveillance cameras around her property, and being swatted with flowers daily by her suitors which help mask her scent.
The narrative really thickens when Robert Kazinsky’s character Guy (Kazinsky who was a well known fixture in the popular show EastEnders) by chance arrives at Leigh’s house and is unaffected by her scent and both fall in love with each other. Without giving much away what follows is an exploration on what love really means and the effect our senses have on us and our actions and how quickly we resort to violence in order to get what we want.
Shaw’s Leigh has moments of charming class which light up the screen aided by the beautiful cinematography. Her naivety of her condition and her strength in fighting for herself is heart-warming. But all the more it’s a subtle statement of our time. The lengths she goes to protect herself, she has to send some of her essence (her blood) to perfume companies globally who distribute microscopic amounts of her to help sell their products and cause attraction. It’s a statement to our modern narcissistic qualities. Peyronel’s world where others strive to capitalise on beauty and being attractive, and where love all to easily leads to violent tendencies is creepily reminiscent to our current situations.
Maybe not the most deserving of being in a festival where violence is often full of blood-lust and psychological trauma, Siren is an easily watchable film which manages to keep you hooked subtly with is vigour and charm.
By Shantok Jetha