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She Creature Reviews

Not a remake of 1956's THE SHE-CREATURE, but a surprisingly imaginative made-for-cable horror picture. The year is 1905, and Irish carnie Angus Shaw (Rufus Sewell) and his girlfriend, actress Lillie (Carla Gugino) — who plays a mermaid in his bogus sideshow of wonders — are looking for a change. They've already booked passage for the US when they meet Mr. Woolrich (Aubrey Morris), a drunken patron of the show who's sitting on an astonishing secret: Woolrich has a real, live mermaid (Rya Kihlstedt) trapped in an oversized tank in his gloomy home. Ignoring Woolrich's impassioned warnings that mermaids are dangerous, Angus and his partner-in-crime, Bailey (Reno Wilson), steal the creature and a cache of relevant documents, including a journal written by Woolrich's late wife. Angus, Bailey and Lillie (who's been told Wolrich sold them the mermaid, fair and square) set sail for America with their mysterious meal ticket concealed in the hold. But the trip goes badly: The crew discover the creature and nearly mutiny, Lillie develops a disturbing psychic bond with the mermaid and it turns out that all those stories about sea-maidens luring sailors to their doom are true. They just neglect to mention what the mermaids have in store for them. Good performances and very creepy mermaid effects lift this picture above the genre norm, and the claustrophobic setting works in the story's favor. Writer-director Sebastian Gutierrez seems to have drawn some of his inspiration from the section of Bram Stoker's Dracula that chronicles the doomed voyage of The Demeter, which ferries the Count to England. But the details hardly matter, because the basic conceit is so great. Killer mermaids: Sheer genius!