She Creature (2001)

“You’d love to show her as a freak attraction.”

Angus (Rufus Sewell) and girlfriend, Lily (Carla Gugino) form part of a carnival sideshow act that features a fake mermaid. After an evening’s performance, a man from the audience invites Angus and Lily back to his remote home for a meal. During the course of the evening, the man explains that he has a real mermaid in his cellar. Angus and Lily, at first, dismiss the man’s claims, but they are both stunned when they are presented with a live, imprisoned mermaid. With grand ideas of making a fortune in New York, Angus and an accomplice steal the mermaid, and smuggle her on board a ship bound for America.

Once aboard the ship, Lily begins to feel a strange, inexplicable bond with the mermaid. Desperate to find answers, Lily begins to read an old journal that holds the answers to the mermaid’s story. Unfortunately, the promise of making a fortune outweighs the threat the mermaid represents, and no one will listen to Lily’s dire misgivings.

The myths surrounding mermaids have always fascinated me, so I picked up this horror film unsure exactly what to expect. I don’t like horror films as a general rule, but She Creature is a simply marvelous film. The film begins in Ireland in 1905. The sets and the costumes are all excellent. Rufus Sewell delivers a splendid performance as the wily and ambitious Angus, and Carla Gugino was phenomenal as Lily. In one scene, Lily desperately practices explaining her theories in front of a mirror. Gugino as Lily manages to convey anxiety, fear, and desperation extremely convincingly. Given the story, this film could potentially be a cheesy nightmare. The special effects help–the mermaid looks ‘realistic’ and suitably enticing–all in all, She Creature is a classy horror film–“some things, no matter how magnificent they are, are best left alone.” Written and directed by Sebastian Gutierrez.

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