Every year Blumhouse Production releases a bunch of horror movies that get people very excited. However, they also produce horror flicks that don’t receive the same treatment in terms of marketing campaign and theatrical release: these ones (for example, Stephanie) are often better and more interesting than the pandering, popular ones.
Glass, Happy Death Day 2U, the remake of The Craft and Ma are just a few of the ones they’re really pushing forward. On the contrary, Mercy Black is a movie that Blumhouse has shelved and hasn’t marketed a lot. I’ve had the chance to watch it ahead of release – it will be on Netflix US from March 31st – and I was hoping it would be as surprising as Stephanie. Was it, though?
The story is very Slenderman-like: fifteen years after stabbing a classmate to conjure an imaginary phantom known as Mercy Black, Marina Hess (Daniella Pineda) is coming home to live with her sister and young nephew, after being released from psychiatric care. But in the years since her crime, the myth of Mercy Black has gone viral inspiring internet rumours, stories, and even copycat crimes. Marina is haunted by what she’s done and the phantom she imagined. Though she would rather leave the past buried, her nephew becomes increasingly obsessed with Mercy Black. To save him, Marina must face her past and uncover the truth behind Mercy Black.
Continue reading and check my final grade below…
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My review will also be available on IMDb – Mercy Black (2019)
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Movies that play with the “is it real or is it all in this person’s head” scenario always intrigue me, and Mercy Black does a solid job with this concept: throughout the entire runtime, the viewer is never sure about what’s going on, giving the picture a refreshing layer of unpredictability.
Yet, the movie features a few scenes of effective violence (both towards adult and children) that are rather unexpected in this type of film. It might be worth noting that the version I watched was still unrated: perhaps, to appeal to a broader audience, Blumhouse will cut these sequences out of the final cut of the movie. I truly hope they won’t, though.
Unfortunately, this is as much credit as I can give to Mercy Black. Everything else in the movie is shockingly broken.
For example, within the first 10 minutes of the movie, we are treated to all the horror clichés one can think of: jump-scares (fake ones, as though it wasn’t bad enough already), creepy kids being creepy for no reason, dream sequences that lead nowhere, isolated locations that are supposed to be frightening for no reason, and the violin playing in the background as it happens in every shitty horror flick made in the last 20 years.
Mercy Black is a compilation of bad lines of dialogue delivered by actors who are either incapable of acting or have been given no direction from the filmmakers. The characters aren’t developed at all, they’re just cardboard figurines with dull facial expression in every other scene.
The version I watched is not be fully polished and complete, the technical issues it suffers from are glaring and rather shocking: there are transitions that make no sense, editing goofs that I could easily fix at home with my Adobe Premiere, the sound-design is off for half of the movie. The biggest problem, though, lies in the sound mixing: you really have to turn up the volume to ridiculous extents to hear what the characters are saying, but the loud noises that accompany every jump-scare are so obnoxiously loud that they gave me a headache. This is clearly rushed release, that happened even before trailers and marketing campaign started…
Yet, towards the final act Mercy Black becomes needlessly convoluted. I’ve seen the movie only one time, so I don’t know how much the ending actually messes up with the continuity of the rest of the movie, but it seems to be rather nonsensical.
In conclusion, Mercy Black is a terrible studio horror movie that fails at delivering anything remotely interesting and falls into the trap of relying on every single horror cliché imaginable. Although it’s not as bad as some of the absolute worst horror films of the last decade, it’s still a colossal failure that I wouldn’t even recommend to die-hard Blumhouse fans. This is what happens when you rush the post-production of a film.
Mercy Black 3/10
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