Sommerleigh Pollonais, Horror Head Writer
Plot: A woman is released from a psychiatric hospital 15 years after stabbing a classmate because of an urban legend about a ghost known as Mercy Black.
Review: Which came first? The monsters or the story? Mercy Black is one of those movies that explores the origin of folklores and asks the question, “If you believe in something hard enough, can you make it come true?” The problem is this screenplay tries to be ambiguous and just ends up being messy.
Leaning more towards thriller than horror, the story definitely has more going for it than say, the stale bread that was Slender Man. Daniella Pineada, who reminds me of a young Shannen Doherty, and who’s getting ready to be a household name with upcoming roles in Cowboy Bebop, Jurassic World: Dominion and Gerard Butler’s latest popcorn action flick The Plane, plays Marina. She’s a woman who spent most of her young life in a psychiatric facility due to something horrific she did when she was younger. Newly released and living with her sister, she has to contend with the legend she inadvertently helped create, Mercy Black, a creature that protects children and takes away their hurt but in return they must give her their pain. Is Mercy real? Or is she a figment of a schizophrenic imagination?
The story, which was written and directed by Owen Egerton (Blood Fest), plays with the logical versus supernatural elements and it’s these elements that make the mystery of Mercy Black interesting, if somewhat predictable. Casual viewers may find the jump scares effective but horror fans are going to be annoyed by them. Still, I have to give credit where it’s deserved and the subtler scares are effective (like a dark open doorway shot slightly out of frame, or utilising a lack of sound to build tension), and I just wished Egerton had more faith in his project and stuck to these types of scenes as it would’ve made for a much better movie.
The actors here are also good in their roles, with Lee Eddy as Lily Bellows and Miles Emmons as Marina’s young nephew Bryce being the two that stood out the most. The latter is such a cutie, yet he’s quite adept at playing the role of “the creepy kid”. And the fact that he swings back and forth between the two so effectively is to be commended as he doesn’t seem to be more than nine or ten years old. Well done.
The biggest issue with this movie is also strangely its most entertaining part—the final act. Most of the first and second act, while a bit slow, does a solid job of building the mythos of Mercy Black. The final act where all is revealed is where everything that came before starts to fall apart. Part of me knew exactly what was going to unfold and for the most part, I was right. But when that twist is revealed, it immediately opens up huge plot holes in the story. For instance, why would everyone be talking about the “murder” Marina and her friend committed if it was something else? It’s a perfect example of a writer trying to add a twist to a movie just for the sake of one, only to have that twist destroy all logic in the story.
Not a bad movie for the casual horror fan and the design and imagery for Mercy is wild, but beyond that I don’t see Mercy Black as the kind of movie I would recommend to friends of the genre. Good character creation but it’s ultimately handicapped by a screenplay that wants to be a thriller and a horror movie and ends up messing up both.
Sommer’s Score: 5.5 out of 10
Sommerleigh of the House Pollonais. First of Her Name. Sushi Lover, Queen of Horror Movies, Comic Books and Binge Watching Netflix. Mother of two beautiful black cats named Vader and Kylo. I think eating Popcorn at the movies should be mandatory, PS4 makes the best games ever, and I’ll be talking about movies until the zombie apocalypse comes.
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