In Hulu's latest anthology series Monsterland episode 6, "Palacios, Texas," features one of the best mermaid creatures in horror to date. The mythology of sirens and mermaids has existed for hundreds of years but they've only been depicted in the genre a handful of times. While the attempts at bringing the mythological sea creature to life have been unique, none have been as creative and faithful to its lore than Monsterland - here's how.
Ever since Hans Christian Anderson's The Little Mermaid was made into an animated movie by Disney, stories of the human-fish hybrid have swung in and out of popularity. In recent years, the horror genre has attempted to take the original dark and fantastical elements of Anderson's story. Nicholas Humphries Mermaid's Song directly adapted the horrifying tale but with very little success. Mermaids are known for their enticing singing voices and directors such as Agnieszka Smoczynska have taken this element and expanded on it in The Lure about an all-girl rock band who use their talents to capture men. Each interpretation of the mythological creature takes one or two common tropes in order to craft a bigger story, yet they've never fully captured the true horrors of mermaids.
Monsterland's "Palacios, Texas" stars Trieu Tran as Sharko, a man whose face was burned by cleaning chemicals after falling off of his boat. He's known for his impeccable fishing abilities but his greatest catch quickly transforms into an unexpected nightmare. After he finds a mermaid washed up on the seashore, he takes her home and thus begins the siren's seduction.
Monsterland's Mermaid Stays Faithful To The Mythology
The horror genre is known for using sharks as their main source of underwater nightmares. When comparing the mythology of mermaids and sirens with shark attacks, the human-fish hybrid is far more unsettling. It is likely that the genre has utilized sharks due to the fact that they actually exist but there is a lot that horror gets wrong about the sea creatures. Over time, they have become so far removed from their true nature that their behaviors are somewhat mythic. Mermaid myths have existed for centuries with nearly every culture having their own unique interpretation. The most common concept of the creature is that it is a beautiful woman with a fish's tail and a song that captivates men to lure them to their death.
In Monsterland, the mermaid appears to Sharko as a grotesque creature who he believes will bring him great fortune as his greatest catch to date. A common belief about the mythological being is that it will either bring greatness or destruction. When he first finds her, Sharko believes it will end in his favor. As "Palacios, Texas" continues, the mystical siren's song causes him to hallucinate. Sharko imagines that she has become human, rids him of his chemical burn, and the two begin a romantic as well as sexual relationship. It is meant to depict the seductive qualities that mermaids are known for historically and mythically (which Pirates of The Caribbean: On Stranger Tides actually got right). Once she has fully entraced Sharko, she convinces him to enter the pool she has been swimming in and begins her feeding frenzy.
Nearly every quality of Monsterland's mermaid fits into the various beliefs on the mythological creature: she is beautiful, can seduce men with her songs, and bring about a watery demise. Other depictions of mermaids in horror are far more subdued than what the Hulu anthology series features. Monsterland's is the best in the horror genre to date due to its ability to follow the mythology with precision as well as delivering a terrifying creature who doesn't fall into clichés.