DIRECTOR: Chris Sparling
WRITER: Chris Sparling
Michael Vincent Donovan
When four estranged brothers return home after receiving the saddening news that their mother is dying. They have made the trip to see her off as their father believes that she won't be around for much longer and is on her deathbed. The four brothers still hold a lot of anger towards each other but must stick together when a group of masked men start to break into the house and begin trying to kill the entire family.
Going into Mercy, I wasn't exactly sure of what to expect from the film. I hadn't seen the trailer before watching it, and I was only really aware of the poster with the white balaclava that was drenched in a fiery orange glow. I also knew that the movie was a Netflix film. I had no idea that this had a few very well known actors in the two leads in James Wolk and Caitlin FitzGerald and had no idea this was another home invasion film. For all I knew, this was just another heist or cops and robbers film.
Mercy is a pretty low key home invasion story. The movie isn't large scale or grand, and for most of the movie's running time, it takes place in an old farmhouse that sits by a large cornfield and forest. A pretty creepy setting for a film that decides to shift gears in the second act to become a home invasion flick. The movie while being low key has a few neat little tricks up its sleeves, but sadly they don't elevate the movie from being at times a pretty routine home invasion film.
For the first thirty minutes of the film, it almost plays like a familial drama. The four brothers when all coming together gives the story a few spikes on the uncomfortable tension scale. We see all four brothers clashing, arguing with each other, some fights break out and can clearly see that there is a huge divide within the family. The father doesn't do much to help the situation. The brothers are also open to basically verbally abusing the girlfriend that has tagged along with one of the brothers. Nothing here is off limits for this family.
After the familial element starts to wind down, this is where the home invasion stuff takes over. We have a pretty frantic attack sequence which carries us over into the forty-five-minute mark. The attack scene plays extremely fast and from the families perspective. We don't know why it's taking place and have no idea what the reason and motivation are behind the intruders attacking the family. Just like the scene, it's very confusing and shot in a way where the audience is left in the dark so to speak.
Suddenly, we cut to the daylight. At this point, I was utterly confused. This is where things started getting interesting, though. We start back at the beginning again. We see all the same shots but from different angles. The film pretty much jumps straight back into the home invasion attack, but we see all the things we had missed the first time around. We witness the intruder attack from the intruders perspective and things being to unravel. It took a while, but this is the point where I began to enjoy Mercy.
The movie builds towards a rather impressive little twist. It's not groundbreaking by any means, but it switches things up, and everything you thought you knew and had come to expect is changed in a minute. The writer/director was able to successfully subvert expectations. It also gives us a slightly dark ending. Yet instead of feeling sadness for those who you expect to, I left the film being somewhat happy with the outcome. I think the conclusion of Mercy will either make or break it for viewers.
The acting is solid for the most part. I found myself really enjoying James Wolk in the lead. I'm a fan of his from his time on the short-lived Sarah Michelle Gellar, and Robin Williams comedy series The Crazy Ones. He is playing on the edge and intense here, and he can do bother of these genres very well. Caitlin FitzGerald as his girlfriend is pretty underused here. I enjoyed her performance in the underseen Always Shine from 2016. Watch her in Always Shine to see her give a fantastic performance.
Lastly, regarding the suspense in Mercy, we have a few solid moments. There is an incredibly creepy scene where we see three figures standing in the woods as our main character shines a torch on them. They begin running at our main character, and the scene made my skin crawl. A few little jump scares here, and there also round out the rest of the movie. For the most part, the film from the thirty-minute mark is pretty intense. The suspense is front and centre as this isn't ever about blood and gore.
DEATH TOLL: 6
BLOOD AND GORE:
- A couple of fights break out.
- Someone is shot dead.
- Someone dies by breaking their neck when falling down the stairs.
- People are stabbed in the stomach.
- Someone smashes their head on the side of a bathtub.
- A girl steps on a cup barefoot.
- A woman is dragged away by masked men and is heard screaming.
- A guy is presumed to be shot dead.
Mercy is a home invasion film that won't break any new ground. If you've seen any other home invasion films, you'll have likely seen most of this movie. The movie is pretty slow in it's build up towards the third act. Mercy contains a solid performance from James Wolk and a nice little switch up towards the end that changes the entire film. These few moments just push Mercy over the finish line for me. I don't love it or hate it. It's a watchable thriller and has a few solid scenes of suspense.