Mercy (DVD)


MercyStarring Chandler Riggs, Joel Courtney, Frances O’Connor, Mark Duplass

Directed by Peter Cornwell

Distributed by Universal Studios

Stephen King’s short story “Gramma” (in his collection Skeleton Crew, published in 1985) comes to life in Peter Cornwell’s Mercy, which shot a few years back and has finally found its way to VOD.

The premise is predicated on the inherent creepiness of the doddering elderly to the young and vital – Grandma Mercy (Shirley Knight) is a painful reminder to her family that death is never too far away. In fact, it’s way too close for comfort.

After Mercy slides into a strange stupor, George (Riggs); his brother, Buddy (Courtney); and their mother, Rebecca (O’Connor), move into her dusty, dank home to care for her. After all, they can’t send Grandma off to a home or a hospice. That’s not what true and caring family does. But they come to regret that decision as they quickly learn something supernatural is wrong with Mercy. The malicious malady is all connected to a mysterious book filled with black magic and clues to a series of dark and evil family secrets. Along for the ride are wisecracking Uncle Lanning (Mark Duplass) and local photographer Jim Swann (Dylan McDermott).

With a vibe quite similar to Cornwell’s 2009 feature The Haunting in Connecticut, and staying true to King’s go-to themes of love and forever family bonds, Mercy succeeds as an absorbing if quirky suspense-drama with top-notch performances delivered by the cast. Knight is especially diabolical as the Grandma from hell, while Duplass is the weakest of the bunch (no thanks to some rather stilted dialogue). It’s a well-shot movie which makes the most of its isolated country cabin conceit, and the spooky sound design bolsters the scares (both jump and genuine).

The reason I refrained from granting Mercy a solid three stars is because the story isn’t all that original for true horror lovers, and the use of CGI is egregiously excessive (at times it’s downright cartoony). Also, readers of the short story might be disappointed in the film’s altered ending.

Still in all, I recommend Mercy for fans of King and casts of note (sometimes it’s nice to see familiar faces in direct-to-VOD horror movies).

  • Film
User Rating 3.38 (8 votes)


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