Starring: Iwan Rheon, Katelyn Mager, Brendon Taylor
Directed by: Nicholas Humphries
Written by: Jessica Leigh Clark-Bojin
Running Time: 88 Min
Reviewed by: Dan Oles
Sound design is a double edged sword. In proper hands it becomes a finely tuned instrument of immersion, enhancing and providing nuance scene by scene. In the wrong hands it’s a distraction and an irritant. Throughout the opening couple of minutes of Mermaid’s Song the impression was good. Period pieces made on a restricted budget are not advised but here was a marked effort to recreate a bygone era, from costume to music to dialogue to makeup and props. Beautiful.
Then I gradually became aware of a ringing in my ears, so loud and obnoxious by degrees it drowned out key lines into a muddled murmuring. Someone felt the need to fill nearly every second of this movie with slow plonking piano notes, distant bells, and reverberating ambient noise. Music is one thing but a mishmash of auditory mush doesn’t do service to the nifty time appropriate details and decent performances. What you can’t hear you can’t appreciate. In the few instances of quiet or conversations without the interference it’s a breath of fresh air. You think in a production which is ostensibly a slow burn thriller there’d be more moments of calm and suspense.
And when the noise isn’t up, there’s some weird and obtrusive editing/directing choices to deal with. The edges of the screen blur, character whoosh into position leaving trails, quick cuts jarringly zip from character to character. It’s unnecessary for a simple production.
And then there’s the biggest sticking point. The effects work just isn’t that good. The ultimate special effects finale is interesting in theory, in lore, and the concept is unique but to realize the more fantastical elements there’s some shaky computer effects and equally shaky practicals going on. The atmosphere of the project just doesn’t mesh with B-movie blood and gore and a frankly goofy looking monster.
It’s honest mistakes and a fraying of the modest budgetary restrictions that mar an otherwise solid little grim fairytale. Nice acting, pretty camerawork, and when the music isn’t too loud it’s charmingly nostalgic. It’s not a poor work but it could definitely stand some working out of the kinks of finer sound design and editing.
Anti-Hero The Motion Comic Series
Episode 1 (Watch for Free!) : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qmmouuBlWTk&t=49s