Review: The Netflix Original “Mercy” Has None On the Viewer



Title: Mercy
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Posted November 25, 2016 by

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My fiancee and I have a rule in our house where every movie we start that we’re not entirely sure about we give the “ten minute test”. If it doesn’t catch our attention in the first ten minutes, or if it’s just plain awful, we will turn it off and try something different. After yesterday’s Thanksgiving festivities, both of us were so tired we could barely keep our eyes open. I figured, what better way to stay awake than with a Netflix original horror movie? It seems that everything Netflix puts out, we love, so what could go wrong?

Chris Sparling’s “Mercy” starts off slow. And I mean extremely slow. It’s a story about four estranged brothers fighting over their mother’s inheritance while she’s dying from a terminal illness in the next room. A doctor, Dr. Turner (Dion Graham), has given the family a black bag of medical equipment and a brochure. He tells them the humane thing to do would be to put her out of her suffering, but even though the family can’t agree on money, they can agree on not pulling the trigger on the doctor’s request. For the first twenty minutes or so the movie revolves around the brothers fighting, and one of them, Brad (James Wolk), explaining everything to his girlfriend Melissa (Caitlin FitzGerald) as it happens. When it’s raining outside, you’ve been visiting family for twelve hours, the heater is on, and you’re watching a movie that’s paced this slow, it’s very hard not to fall asleep. Or turn something more exciting on in order to stay awake. While my fiancee was ready to throw in the towel, I stuck with “Mercy” knowing there had to be more than what I was being given. And I was right; unfortunately.

The action does finally kick in when masked attackers start sneaking around the house and trying to attack Brad, Melissa, and Brad’s brother Travis (Tom Lipinski). While some of their decisions, some of the action, and some of the dialogue comes off a bit cheesy, I was happy people were, at the very least, being chased. And to Chris Sparling’s credit, he snuck in some cool visuals and the overall tone of the movie started feeling a little more horror/thriller-ish. The ol’ “lull me to sleep with boring exposition only to shock the system with some classic creepy horror scenes”. Well played. Unfortunately, this is where “Mercy” begins to completely fall apart and my patience reached its end but my confusion drove me forward.

After getting twenty minutes or so of action and wondering where this was going to lead, Sparling decides that the best way to show you who the attackers are, what their motives are, and what really happened in that twenty minutes you just watched would be to make you watch it all over again just with a few different perspectives thrown in. For the most part though, you are just re-watching a longer version of everything you just sat through. I don’t know if he thought his script was too clever for audiences to follow along so he needed to really drive it home, or if he thought maybe it was too confusing. I’m really just not sure. Obviously we’ve all seen films that jump around in time to tell a whole story, but this is the first time I’ve felt like the writer/director was like, “No, no, no. See. THIS is what is happening. Here: just let me show you again so you really get it.” It’s an exhausting exercise that would get most viewers to turn it off and move on to something else, but just like with the beginning of this movie, I felt there was more to it. This couldn’t be it. There was something that was going to really tie it all together and make it worth it. I was wrong.

This movie tries to throw so many twists in that it just ends up spinning in a circle and bumping into itself. It got to the point that I didn’t care who the attackers were, their motives were just so stupid that I was going to hate the reveal regardless. By the time I got to the end of the movie, I was left with a film that had some cool visuals but a pointless plot and characters that seemed just as confused by their roles as I was with the movie as a whole. The very last scene is a scenic view as we hear a gunshot. The sound of the audience being put out of their misery. Chris Sparling could be a voice of the new generation of filmmakers, but he needs to learn to trust that his audience is smart enough to follow along without being given every little clue. Sometimes less is more, in this case more was too much.






    lol thank you for this!! I watched this today and i completly agree with your summary.. From what I gathered the mother was the head of some cult.. The cult possibly killed her first husband and now they want to keep her alive. I was confused and frustrated with the whole movie but it was like a bad car accident you gotta look!!


    I very much agree with this review. I just watched it last night and I could only describe the movie in one word: lost. I just could not make out what the story was all about, that there were a few times that I had to back it up and just try to see what and where I missed. And even though I keep reviewing it, I still don’t get what the big reveal is. Up to now, I am still confused and lost!


    I love this review. I had so many questions.
    All of those people in a house in the middle of the night that’s in a quiet area couldn’t hear those intruders. I mean there were at least 2 loud fights that every single person slept through. That church had the reputation of some major crime organization, but they sucked at getting the job done. And after all of that why would the last living son think he was just gonna walk away without being killed also? The movie was a waste of my time.


    Really bad… I saw it because it had 4 stars, and I dont know who can rate this movie with more than one star. I didnt like the repetition neither the end. Really wierd and two hors lost in nothing.

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