Queer Movie Queue is a fortnightly look at gay films that are available to watch online via various streaming services. Mostly Netflix.
“Hold on, miss,” cautions a male voice at the beginning of A Siren in the Dark, “the road gets bumpy ahead.”
“You have no idea,” his female companion replies.
Heed this warning, traveler: A Siren in the Dark is the bumpiest film you’ll ever see. In related news, I’ve started using the word “bumpy” as a euphemism for “really fucking stupid,” and Siren is positively herky-jerky. Sadly, at this point in cinematic history one expects the vast majority of gay movies to be awful, but Siren takes it up a notch by being three awful movies cobbled together in the most convoluted of ways. I’ve watched it twice now, and I still have no idea what’s going on. Is it a crime drama? A horror movie? A paranormal thriller? Gay porn? Yes…but also no.
The main storyline revolves around the titular siren, Joshua (Orion Cross). His MO is luring unsuspecting men to his cabin in the woods, sexing them up, and then…eating them? I’m not entirely sure on that point. He’s also a shape shifter, but we only see that once. Joshua’s most recent victim is Danny (David Beutler) – a shiftless drug dealer whose personal history is one of the films subplots. There’s also a psychic cop named Cameron (Todd Tetreault) who’s investigating the string of disappearances related to Joshua.
“But Sweetdee,” you say, “that doesn’t sound too convoluted. Boy meets boy. Boy kills boy. Cop comes in and investigates boy’s murder. Pretty simple.” Ah yes, my synopsis does make the film sound rather straightforward, but I’ve done this for your sake, reader. I’ve done it for the sake of YOUR SANITY! First of all, the plot doesn’t progress linearly—it starts in the middle, moves to the end, hopscotches to the beginning, flails back to the middle, then limps haggardly to the end which is also the beginning. Then you have the added bonus of a lot of crap that just doesn’t make sense thrown in to the movie for fun. Like an early scene with Cameron’s (surprisingly Asian) little brother: the scene starts with him flouncing around half-naked while video chatting with a friend. They get into an argument that can only be resolved by whipping out their penises and then…that’s it. Cameron comes home and the audience finds out that “PJ” is his brother and not, as I assumed, his houseboy. They have some awkward brotherly banter, PJ gives Cameron a massage (!!!), and then he just stops being in the movie.
A lot of the positive reviews of Siren talk about how the movie “isn’t obvious” and how it “makes you work,” but that doesn’t hold up in light of the movie’s inescapable and inexplicable porn-ness. Likewise, enjoying the film as pure fap material means schlepping through the noxious acting and writing with relatively little payoff. There’s too much flat out gratuitous sex for an erotic thriller and by far too much talking for a straight up porno. Topics like incest and rape are brought up, but it’s not clear if they’re introduced in a half-baked attempt at drama or for the sake of titillation. For example, part of Danny’s back-story is that he’s a voyeur and two of his favorite subjects are half-brothers. This is something I could see in a David Lynch film, but what I can’t imagine is a scene in that movie where the incestuous siblings make out in slow motion while doing that obnoxious porn star look directly at the camera in an attempt to be sexy thing. And this happens a lot in Siren. One scene near the end features photographs coming to life and having sex for absolutely no reason.
Usually films with a micro budget try not to overexert themselves, but Siren takes a different approach by trying (and failing) to do everything all at once. The only reason to watch this movie is because it’s so bad, it has to be seen to be believed. A written review simply cannot do justice to photograph sex or the monotone delivery of lines like “[He was] slightly retarded but oh so willing.” The movie isn’t, however, so bad it’s good. It doesn’t come near good. Good has a restraining order against this movie.
For being so bad it’s just bad, I give A Siren in the Dark one porn star trying desperately to act out of five.
If you’re so inclined, you can watch the film on Netflix and give your own review on the forums.