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Freeform's 'Siren' is a Fright-Filled Mermaid Tale
March 29, 2018  | By David Hinckley

Hide the children if you decide to watch Freeform’s new horror series Siren, which wouldn’t be a bad decision.

Siren, which premieres Thursday at 8 p.m. ET, revolves around mermaids. Just not your daughter’s mermaids.

This is not The Little Mermaid or those other adorable mermaid videos full of sparkling colors and cheerful pop tunes that are so enchanting to 6-year-old girls.

These mermaids are closer kin to Bruce, the psychotic shark from Jaws. At least one Siren scene, in fact, could have been cut-and-pasted from that classic.

Besides taking the mermaid brand to the dark side, Siren also breaks away from the familiar Freeform genre of complicated character dramas revolving around teenagers and young adults.

Siren will doubtless draw young fans since it could be seen as a more menacing version of Twilight, but this is a show where anyone at any moment could get ripped apart.

That’s the premise of a thousand horror shows and movies, of course. What differentiates them is how well the show sets up the tension and keeps us in suspense while building up a drama we want to follow. Siren does all that with skill and style.

Our main mermaid is Ryn (Eline Powell, above), who looks just scary enough we want to keep an eye on her, but normal enough so it’s credible that when she pops out of the water, sheds her tail, pulls on a pair of jeans, and strolls through the village of Bristol Cove, she can pass for a townie.

She undertakes this mission, which isn’t her first choice for how to spend an afternoon, because her sister mermaid Katrina (Aylya Marzolf) got trapped in a net and hauled up with a load of fish. Ryn doesn’t know that Katrina was then confiscated by a top-secret government agency and whisked away for either study or termination, but she does know that Katrina didn’t come back to the ocean and therefore needs rescuing.

Once Ryn gets up on land, she runs into Ben (Alex Roe, right), a hunky young guy who’s also the scion of the town’s ruling family, which naturally harbors unsavory secrets. Ben has distanced himself from the family, earning a blue-collar living, and he’s such a nice guy that even a predatory mermaid doesn’t immediately want to eat him.

It’s safe to call Ryn and Ben an odd couple that could get odder. Though it seems unlikely this will become a Shape of Water deal, because Ben has a serious land-based girlfriend named Maddie (Fola Evans-Akingbola), man and mermaid will indeed team up to find Katrina.

Okay, Ben’s interest lies less in Katrina than in his friend Chris, who was also spirited away by that top-secret government agency because Katrina bit him. Whatever the specifics, Ben and Ryn are on the same mission.

It should also be noted that mermaids aren’t an alien concept in Bristol Cove. Local lore has it their presence at one time was widely accepted, though the only remnant today is an annual mermaid festival much more in the sparkly colors mold.

It’s not clear exactly where Siren’s first ten episodes will be going, which is good in a horror production, and the writers don’t take the lazy path of drenching the show in blood. The way Siren confirms Ryn’s eating habits is far more revolting because it’s suggestive, not graphic.

We won’t be looking for Ryn in Blue Planet III. But if you like good clean horror fun, with a lead character who is strangely mesmerizing, you could find yourself seduced by Siren.

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