Mermaid [2017 Vonley Smith Short Film] Review

Screen Shot 2019-10-21 at 4.25.14 PM

AKA: N/A
Genre: Fantasy/Drama
Year Released: 2017

Distributor: Unlicensed

Origin: Barbados
Running Time: 11 minutes

Rating/Recommended Audience: PG

Related Films/Series: N/A
For Fans Of: The Shape of Water, Aquamarine, Neptune’s Daughter, Lu Over the Wall, Venus of the South Seas, Rusalka

Notes:

-Mermaid is streaming on YouTube and Vimeo.

Fun Facts:
-Vonley Smith is a Barbadian director who has worked on short films such as Inside the Woods and Yuki Island.

-Hilarious in Hindsight: It’s really hard not to spoil one major part of the movie, but when the fisherman and the mermaid kissed in that one scene, there was only one song that popped in your head when that happened. I’ll give you a hint. It’s sung by an animated crab with a Jamaican accent and it involves kissing. I shouldn’t have to explain what song or what movie it’s from.


My journey to review Caribbean movies has certainly continued after checking out TJ and Lost In the Deep End. After reviewing that Vincentian short documentary and that Kittitian drama, I got check out a movie from that region: Barbados. The reasons for randomly checking out that country is quite interesting. The thing is I recently got into checking out the Caribbean Premier League cricket very recently (see, I DO check out sports programs from time to time). Cricket is actually a big deal in that region and the Barbados Tridents won their second championship in that league. Congrats, Tridents! Going back on topic, I legitimately didn’t know anything about Barbadian cinema and I’m sure the only thing most people know about that country is that the most famous person from there is none other than Rihanna. Once again, I expand my horizons to see what kind of movies are from part of that world.

OH COME ON! Like you weren’t thinking of referencing that Disney movie after seeing the title of this short film?



Mermaid is about a fisherman in a coastal Barbadian village who catches that legendary creature in his net. After catching a glance at her, he panics after she gazes at him. The timeline is flipped as it leads up to that particular event as the fisherman narrates his desire to find this mermaid in this recessed village filled with boat graveyards, a severe lack of tourists, and polluted areas around. How will the fisherman return to that mermaid and how will she respond to seeing him again?

This was an unexpected take on a mermaid story. There were some experimental elements like how the story is in media res and with subtle visual effects that weren’t overbearing or distracting. The cinematography shows the lush Caribbean landscapes and seascapes which look very professional. There was some unique things on what would normally be a cliche story, but the presentation made it better. I will also say that Deiandra Frederick looks gorgeous playing the mermaid and I’m surprised she doesn’t have a career in acting or modeling yet. That and she would easily troll those cowards who did that whole #NotMyAriel crap when Halle Bailey was confirmed to be in that upcoming live action remake for obvious reasons (okay, I’ll stop with The Little Mermaid references after this sentence). Mermaid certainly looks good as a short film.

However, Mermaid does get scarred and it doesn’t smile a lot (Mermaid Forest references! BOOM! You’re welcome, anime fans!). The narration is very stiff from the fisherman and he really needs to step his voice acting game up. The poem at the end was cut off even in the full screen. Even though there’s a unique look to this story, it does get cliche with him finding the mermaid again. Some things were unnecessary like him wandering around most of the time. Then, there’s the kiss. Oh, boy! The implications are so obvious and I had to facepalm about that particular situation. No, just no.

Mermaid was a decent watch, but it was hindered by some cliches. The video production is certainly great and I liked some of the experimental narratives. The soundtrack worked with it’s light symphonic bent. I couldn’t stand the limp voice acting and the cliches abound here. This had potential, but I would’ve changed things in that short film.


Adjustable Rating System:

Add 1-2 points if you like mermaids in movies.
Subtract 1-2 points if you want stronger acting.


Pros:

-Great camera work and effects
-Atypical narrative
-Nice soundtrack

Cons:
-Cliches pop up
-Flaccid voice acting
-Facepalm-worthy aspect with the ending

Final Score: 6/10 points

Content Warning: Mermaid doesn’t have many objectionable things, but there are reservations. The fisherman pees on a tree briefly and he kisses the mermaid. Spoilers: She doesn’t become human!

All photos property of their respective owners and used under US “Fair Use” laws. Mermaid is property of Vonley Smith. The screenshot is from Vimeo and is property of Vonley Smith.

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