Seldom do segments from anthology features get a second life as feature films. For the most part, they exist, and work best, within the auspices of the aforementioned format. Because of their shorter form, these bite-sized short films almost always exist to serve the larger picture of an anthology film, usually a single theme that runs throughout.
However, there are some ideas within these type of films that are festering with the potential for expansion. This is the case with director Gregg Bishop’s SiREN, an adaptation of the segment “Amateur Night” from the anthology series V/H/S. But SiREN is no mere rehash of its predecessor: whereas “Amateur Night” takes on the found footage format, SiREN opts for the traditional narrative feature film.
As in “Amateur Night” a few friends head out into the night for drug-infused and uninhibited thrills as part of Jonah’s (Chase Williamson) bachelor party. His alpha-male brother, Mac (Michael Aaron Milligan), is the orchestrator behind the night of debauchery, willing to push the limits in order for his brother to have one last great hurrah. Along for the ride are Jonah’s friends Rand (Hayes Mercure) and Elliot (Randy McDowell).
The strip club they first hit up is very sub par and not the quality locale they expected. However, the night is not ruined. They meet a stranger at the strip club with promises of beautiful women and the time of their life at another, and much more illustrious and exclusive, club. Seeking a good time, Jonah and company are the perfect candidates for the clandestine location.
With their judgment clouded by the shrooms they have consumed they decide to follow the stranger to the secret club. Amid rising fears and reluctance, their apprehensions are soon quelled when they arrive at the secluded mansion, that resembles something out of Stanley Kubrick’s Eyes Wide Shut. Full of beautiful women and opulence the group is quickly lured by their own impulses.
If you’ve seen V/H/S you know where this is going, and if you haven’t, by now you’ve looked at the title and poster of the film and you can gather what direction this film is taking. The women at the mansion are held in captivity as Jonah discovers and falls particularly fond for one, known as Lily (Hannah Fierman, reprising her role from “Amateur Night”). Jonah foolishly concocts an escape with a nude Lily, avoiding the owner and operator of the establishment, Mr. Nyx (Justin Welborn), and his security. In the process Jonah drags his friends into an unwanted ordeal where Lily has “chosen” Jonah and will stop at nothing to protect him, revealing her true monstrosity as a winged, and deadly, siren.
SiREN is a phenomenal and intense adaptation of “Amateur Night” that far surpasses the short in tone and action. The film’s traditional narrative allows for the film to breathe and further expand on its own mythos rather than restricting itself to the found footage format of the former. It also allows for the filmmakers to cast someone as talented as– de facto face of horror– Chase Williamson, whom you might recognize from John Dies at the End and this year’s Beyond the Gates. Recasting Hannah Fierman as Lily was a good call as this physically demanding role has become all but her own.
Lighter in tone than “Amateur Night” the dynamic between Jonah, his brother, and friends works well as they quip back and forth making what transpires later in the evening that more jarring and unexpected. Although “Amateur Night” benefits from mystery and relies on a twist for its maximum effect, SiREN stands on its own and is a must-see– a fun and thrilling film that will please audiences.
SiREN releases in select theaters December 2 from Chiller Films. It will hit VOD, Digital HD, and DVD on December 6.