Crimson Quill’s Appraisal #460
Also known as Killer Mermaids, Mamula
Number of Views: One
Release Date: 1 May 2014
Sub-Genre: Survival Horror
Country of Origin: Serbia, Montenegro
Running Time: 94 minutes
Director: Milan Todorovic
Producer: Marko Jocic
Screenplay: Marko Backovic, Barry Keating, Milan Konjevic
Special Effects: Miroslav Lakobrija
Visual Effects: Ivan Pribicevic, Ivan Arsic
Cinematography: Dimitrije Jokovic
Score: Nikola Jeremic
Editing: Filip Dedic
Studios: Viktorija Film, Talking Wolf Productions, Jerry Catering Service, Digitalkraft, Media Plus
Distributor: Epic Pictures Group
Stars: Kristina Klebe, Franco Nero, Natalie Burn, Dragan Micanovic, Miodrag Krstovic, Slobodan Stefanovic, Sofija Rajovic, Zorana Kostic Obradovic, Jelena Rakocevic, Janko Cekic, Miki Peric, Milena Predic, Mina Sablic
Suggested Audio Jukebox
 Jodi Benson “Part of Your World”
 Omny Style “Dark Sea Adventure”
Tom Hanks got off lightly if you ask me. Whatever was he thinking when he hooked up with Daryl Hannah anyhoots? She didn’t possess a vagina. After watching Ron Howard’s Splash, I was fully aware of mermaids and their dick-teasing antics. Sure, they sing a pretty tune and, from the waist up, they ain’t too shabby to look at but sub-aqua they’re just a little too slippery for my liking. Thanks to Walt Disney, we are led to believe that they are a benign species, but nobody in pre-school tells us about the song of the siren. Thousands of wayward sailors perish every year as a result of their devastating ditties and no man alive can resist their enticing tones. What we weren’t made privy to in Splash was that, ten-minutes into their courtship, Madison used Allen as a life-sized tooth pick as she dislodged those stubborn ribs from her incisors. Mermaids are evil. Evil I tell you.
Okay, I can see you’re going to take some convincing. Milan Todorovic’s Nymph is that rare thing…a horror movie from Serbia & Montenegro no less. The Serbian director’s sophomore full-length feature is a curious number, and is best described as a premium version of Dagon. It also provides further proof of my theory that harpies should be avoided at any costs. However, there’s a little more to this story than lusting goldfish as every bitch needs a pimp and, to get to her, you have to get through him first. The Guardian, as he is better known, is the one lucky fella deemed valuable to our killer mermaid and his prize for bedding a minnow is a lifetime searching for stray holidaymakers to hack up in her honor while she barks her orders from the bottom of a well. Pussy whipped. Soundly.
Kelly (Kristina Klebe) and Lucy (Natalie Burn) set off to Montenegro hopeful of a little semen and meet up with Alex (Slobodan Stefanovic) primed to catch up with unfinished business from college. However, they’re not banking on his new fiancée Jasmin (Sofija Rajovic) and she isn’t particularly comforted by their presence. After marking her territory in no uncertain terms she proceeds to let down her guard and, a few shots to the dome later, foolishly becomes the first one with vomit in her hair. While she’s back at the villa shitting and pissing her panties, her shady beau is outside on the marina rekindling his old flame with Lucy. Mermaids may be the real killers here but alcohol is undoubtedly the enabler.
Once the hangovers kick in and the realization dawns that what happened in Montenegro should probably stay in Montenegro, our party decide on a little time on the open waves. Here they encounter Boban (Dragan Micanovic) and we are grateful for the swing in group dynamic, although Alex is clearly less enamored by his arrival. We needed more than faint sexual tension before setting off to remote island Mamula and Boban brings a little welcome charisma to proceedings. He thinks he’s Robert De Niro, we know he’s not, but we like him nonetheless and things are heading in the right direction.
There’s just enough time to chew the fat with the locals over a few Stella Artois and here we are introduced to Niko (Franco Nero). To begin with, it appears as though his character will be largely inconsequential, but there’s more to this paranoid fisherman than meets the eye. Todorovic gets it spot on with the group’s reaction to his lengthy warning against stepping foot on Mamula. Straight faces and synchronized gulps all around. Having said that, the very next morning they’re dropping anchor at the abandoned military fortress regardless and about to walk into a mild shit storm.
It doesn’t take long before The Guardian (Miodrag Krstovic) becomes aware of their trespasses and begins hunting them down post-haste. The inclusion of duel threats works well with the friends splitting up and Scylla the Nymph (a mesmerizing Zorana Kostic Obradovic) is content to remain in the dark recesses while the old codger up top puts in a shift. The second act is a mixture of positives and negatives. On the plus side, it becomes clear that Todorovic has a few tricks up his sleeve and won’t always guide us in the direction we’re expecting. Regrettably, our numbers are ravaged in around ten frenetic minutes and, after such a measured build-up, things are starting to look a little fishy.
The closing act shifts momentum a third time and Todorovic brings back Niko in a most unexpected capacity. Suddenly, a seemingly stock character becomes far more, and I applaud the decision to flesh him out further. Nymph earns its water wings as a result of this turn of events and, dare I say, I felt a little dry ice in my throat as this fable drew to a close. That is quite an achievement for a movie which had seemed content to tread water previously. Mention should also be made of Dimitrije Jokovic whose luxuriant cinematography makes the most of the idyllic setting.
My main gripe is actually with the choice of title in some regions. Nymph is more seductive, more ambiguous, less contrived. Killer Mermaids suggests something which Todorovic is never looking to deliver. Many will judge it harshly as a result of its questionable mantle and that seems a shame to me. Name aside, it’s another string for the increasingly burly bow of Epic Pictures, who are fast developing as one of the finest distribution houses out there. Little movies like this need to be made if the industry isn’t going to capitulate. What they bring to the table is production value and it has that in spades. I wouldn’t be as foolhardy as to suggest that the song of the siren was lost on me. Scylla does have one helluva set of lungs on her and she sings purty too.
Crimson Quill’s Judgement: 7/10
Grue Factor: 3/5
For the Grue-Guzzlers & Pelt-Nuzzlers: There are moments of brutality, particularly when The Guardian perseveres with hacking off one particularly stubborn head. The decision to view this atrocity from behind his back is an astute one as it’s definitely a case of what you don’t see being more affecting on this occasion. One finger wag in Todorovic’s direction: aside from a two-strong early flurry, the bikinis stay on. Dagnabbit.
Richard Charles Stevens
Keeper of The Crimson Quill
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