When one thinks of mermaid films, most remember Splash (1984) starring Daryl Hannah and Tom Hanks, the for the Disney lovers it is The Little Mermaid (1989) but for the horror fans Stuart Gordon’s Dagon (2001) holds the reins for his version of the crypto-zoology beast, that echoes from the Greek tragedy tales of Sirens. Now the director of the up-coming horror films 6Dana66Godina (2015) and Wrath of the Dead (2016), Milan Todorovic reteams with story author Marko Backovic from Zone of the Dead (2009) for a dive into the waters with a good creature feature blending a European horror mystery and campfire spooky story with an exquisite location of Mamula. Mamula actually was the original title, and later changed to Nymph and then finally Killer Mermaid, but the things that did not alter was the story and the phenomenal location, which once served as a concentration camp from May 30, 1942 during World War II and onwards for Mussolini. It is a known for torture and cruelty to prisoners, adding to the film locations mysteries and equally haunting island, as the fort, which still stands, covers 90% of the island. This added to advantages during the filming, especially with clear water and then bikini clad women, the richness of the tropics, and then the chases, and bloody gore with monster needing to feed, and this becomes a delightful horror tale.
The screenplay modified by Barry Keating and Milan Konjevic, who are both connected to Wrath of the Dead, and really use the atmosphere and location to drive the story, unsure that without this ideal place the story success would flourish wonderfully. While the concept of Eastern Europe is filled with torture-porn and other horrors, this contains a traditional folklore into a genuinely tense horror movie, with lots of potential from the characters, and especially the location, then memorable highlights of the monster, which of course is a mermaid, the title and cover art clearly reveal that. Yet that does not hurt the film in any manner, the cover art for Jaws, shows exactly where the jaws belong, and still it generates horror, suspense and thrills. This film has five friends ready to explore the old fort, and pack with adventure and atmosphere, natural scares, and curiosity abound, to find thrills, all under the bright beautiful skies, lurks horrors. The lovely and talented actresses Kristina Klebe, Natalie Burn and Sofia Rajovic present believable characters with vulnerabilities and insecurities, a turn from gusto woman, they are not weak or in need of rescuing but they play the role with a natural identifying reasoning. A standout performance comes from Franco Nero, as Niko, a mysterious fisherman, the Crazy Ralph of the story, the one with the answers, warnings and tall tales. It is the beneath the surface of the fort where the terror begins, with chases and a confusing maze of tunnels which works for this film, keeping the monster hidden and once one dives below the surface of the water leaving the comfort zone, the feeding grounds narrow in on them, tasty desires.
Sadly, though the same clichés that exist in horror films continues, with people doing dumb things, which makes for the rolling of eyes, instead of bringing the viewer to the edge of our seats and cringing at the up-beat tempos. A possible downside comes from the extensive character development, which tests the patience of horror fans, seeking a slam-bam time, with the story, for those are best to look elsewhere for their fix. In the drama genre, one will sit through the character fleshing out, but for some odd reason the horror department seems to seek bloodlust and nude scenes more frequently and yet still cries out for treating them with respect. In addition, the actors speak English with a very thick accent, a negative to some, but the story’s cinematography takes control and prevents that as a hindrance.
Filmed in the tourist friendly area of Montenegro, this richness, soon covered in blood smearing, and screams echoing out to harmonize the calls of the birds, all collides together with a wonderful solid horror film. Although low budget, it never seems unfinished, rather, sinister as one witnesses human remains dumped into a well, splashing down only to hear crunching sounds emitting upward and murkiness from where it resonated. The CGI remains, at a low input and the entertain value achieves tremendous heights without an overabundance of gore or nudity, rather an entire film.