Image: Fox Searchlight
Have you ever actually considered how the mechanics of having sex with a fish-person (mermaid or otherwise) might actually work? Guillermo del Toro certainly has, and we're all going to get a chance to see how he conceptualises it in his upcoming adult fairy tale The Shape of Water.
The Shape of Water prominently features the story of forbidden love between a mysterious humanoid fish creature (Doug Jones) being held in a secret government facility and Elisa (Sally Hawkins), a technician who works there. When they think nobody else is watching, Elisa sneaks into the room where the creature's tank is housed, brings him eggs that he likes eating, and begins to forge a bond with him that begins platonically before blossoming into romance.
In a recent interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Jones and del Toro were frank in discussing their vision for the human-monster relationship. Specifically, they were open about how The Shape of Water does not shy away from the idea that Elisa and the creature will have sex at some point during the film. Jones was required to shoot some of his scenes with full frontal nudity, he explained, because The Shape of Water is going for authenticity.
When I asked [del Toro] why this time does it need to involved full-frontal nudity -- I mean, we're going for it! -- and he harkened back to the Creature from the Black Lagoon and Frankenstein and any of the classic monster movies that helped develop his love of monsters.
There was always a romantic side to these characters and relationships on film that never got actualized all the way. Guillermo said this time, the monster's going to actually fuck the girl. A gentler way to say it is that this is the creature from the wet, black lagoon who actually gets the girl this time.
Del Toro's told stories about relationships between humans and monsters before (see: Hellboy), but the topic of sex has rarely been breached beyond vague allusions to the characters' sex lives presenting something of a unique challenge for them. It will be interesting to see how The Shape of Water handles Elisa and the creature's intimacy given that, well, fish sex is kind of complicated and disgusting.
Do you know how fish have sex? It's neither pretty nor particularly romantic. Then again, different strokes for different folks.