Siren ★★★½

The segment known as Amateur Night in the original V/H/S film was easily one of the highlights of film and when it was announced that it was being developed into a full film, I was all for it. Adding to that hype was getting Gregg Bishop to direct it, who was easily one of the names to watch after the hilariously fun Dance of the Dead back in 2008. The only thing that killed some of my excitement was that it was being made by Chiller and really, I did have some worry that it would be made for TV quality. While the film, going under the name SiREN (and yes, it's spelled that way), does have some issues with its budget, the results are still surprisingly fun and refreshing.

Instead of rehashing the segment from V/H/S, Bishop and team opt to go with the concept (guys out to party stumble upon this "girl" and shit goes awry) and fix the problems and wrap a fascinating world around it. The characters in the film are much more likable than the ones in the segment, thank God, and the place they stumble into our titular monster woman is not your normal party. In fact, it's the setting of this otherworldly bar and club, that might be the ace in the sleeve for SiREN. There is a whole world that can easily be franchised around the idea of this place where this demonic monster is being kept for other people's enjoyment and it makes for some quirky and strong visuals to place the film in. Bishop does his thing here as a director, proving that Dance of the Dead wasn't just a fluke, and ably pulls some great visuals and tense moments out of the film. In particular, a diner slaughter is shot in a particularly slick fashion that had me grinning from ear to ear. Partner his abilities to pull out great moments with some decent performances, again Hannah Fierman as the monstrous Lily steals the movie, but I was shocked at the quality in general.

If there is anything that prevents SiREN from scoring higher, it's the budgetary constraints. The CGI looks cheap at times, despite some of the better practical effects that pop up, and the film lacks some of the sleeker production values that would have kicked it to the next level. On the whole, however, SiREN works around these things pretty solidly and only occasionally hits some snags in the narrative flow to stutter its momentum.

SiREN may end up being one of the bigger surprises out of 2016 in horror and succeeds in developing an already strong short film into a robust and thoughtful extension of the ideas that works. It has some great moments and it builds a solid universe for the characters and monsters to inhabit which is worthy of some solid praise there. It's not a film for everyone and surely horror fans should be able to look past the budgetary issues to find the fun and killer moments that arise. SiREN definitely gets the Blood Brothers stamp of approval.