Review: SiREN (2016)


SiREN (2016) is a spin-off feature-length film based on a short from the 2012 horror anthology V/H/S. It’s a rare commodity among low-budget direct-to-DVD/VOD films; a low budget horror film that is actually entertaining to watch, if not a bit derivative of other films in the genre.

I’m not a fan of the found footage horror genre; by far, it tends to be creatively bankrupt and overpopulated by low budget features. As such, one can be really hard-pressed to find any halfway decent found footage horror films made in the last decade. I was also not a big fan of 2012’s V/H/S/, a found footage horror anthology riding the then-current hipster horror love affair with 1980’s VHS video cassettes. One of the only saving graces was the short “Amateur Night”, where one of the protagonists wears glasses with a recorder to film some amateur porn with his buddies with unforeseen results.

SiREN is based on that original short; primarily on the character Lily within the short, played here as well by actress Hannah Fierman. Lily is a succubus and the film serves as her origin story. We first meet Lily through the perspective of Nyx (Justin Welborn), a collector of paranormal creatures with his own agenda. A group of would-be satanists tried to raise a demon and instead raise Lily, a succubus, as a young girl. Nyx captures her and promises her friendship as we zoom to the present. Here, Jonah (John Dies at The End‘s Chase Williamson) is about to get married to his fiancee Eva (Lindsey Garrett) but has one last bachelor party weekend with his friends Rand (Hayes Mercure), Elliot (Randy McDowell), and his his brother Mac (Michael Aaron Milligan). Mac is the best man, but Jonah is conflicted as he really wanted to give the honor to his friend Rand. Mac feels determined to prove his worth by taking the crew to Garden City, which supposedly has a huge underground party scene. Mac is also broke but still trying to impress Jonah and his friends. Thus, when he meets a man who can promise him access to the wildest party scene possible in a remote plantation-style home, he’s all in. Little does the crew know that this cathouse is Nyx’s personal paranormal harem; one where Jonah meets Lily and is compelled to try and free her after hearing her siren’s song. But little does he know that Lily has marked him, and once he is marked, there is no turning back from this Siren.

From this point, SiREN is a fairly predictable genre piece in many ways. It borrows plot points and beats heavily from many other notable genre films. From Hellboy, Splice, to Tales from the Crypy presents Bordello of Blood, and 2010’s Passion Play, SiREN wears its influences on its sleeves fairly clearly. The Nyx character is a stock villain at best, not dissimilar to Rhys Ifans’ evil sideshow owner character in Passion Play, but he provides an interesting counterpoint storyline to balance out the movie. While in the original short, Lily was a one-dimensional succubus, here she is a victim of circumstance. In many ways this serves to somewhat make her a relatable monster, not unlike Frankenstein’s Monster or Dren from Splice.


SiREN is rare in many ways. It’s a rare example of an entertaining feature spun off from an anthology film; something even Machete arguably is not. It’s also the rare low budget feature that works by keeping its ambitions and storyline simple. SiREN has an intriguing 3rd act and ending that make me want to see more of this character and the film doesn’t squander the character’s world and potential in one shot like many other films would have.