Mercy was a film that I had on my radar for quite some time. It was a film announced a while ago. It was one of a rash of projects that Joel Courtney got involved with on the heels of his outstanding performance in J.J. Abrams’ Spielbergian Super 8. Combine that with the fact that it is a Stephen King adaptation, the signing of Chandler Riggs (The Walking Dead), the involvement of Blumhouse and Universal and there were plenty of reasons to look forward to this film. Eventually though, without and fanfare (as there usually isn’t), this film kind of vanished from consciousness as all involved moved on to the next job.
Then with just as little fanfare the film plopped up available as a digital first download on Amazon ahead of its DVD release.
Mercy mainly concerns a young boy, George (Chandler Riggs), who with his grandmother (Shirley Knight) bedridden starts to wonder about and discover her true nature and family secrets buried in their past.
The difficulty of divorcing one’s fanboy self from an objective film-viewer is epitomized by the fact that this film could have harvested an intriguing internalized tale from the prose, but instead it perhaps over-externalized it. One of the pitfalls it faces is also expanding a short and building out characters because it only does so part of the way. More dimensions are added to characters but it only goes part of the way. Mark Duplass, plays an uncle, he comes to George (Riggs) to disavow him of his notions because he idealizes her. However, this has to be assumed. He’s barely introduced when he makes this leap, and knowing how jaded he is, why not try and talk to Buddy instead (Courtney)?
The aforementioned facets of the film nits; smaller quibbles. There are things that occur that in some ways make you wonder about the production, and in general questionable decisions. The very first scene in the film cuts awkwardly. Riggs and Courtney overall do fine jobs, but in the early scenes they seem a bit ill at ease in their roles, Courtney especially; as they get caught up then the stakes go up. Unfortunately, CG plays a hug role in the latter third and it doesn’t really work that well at all.
I think to convey it best to King fans I can frame it this way: the CG-heavy climactic portions of this film remind me of a 21st Century Langoliers, only this film isn’t anywhere near as compelling as The Langoliers is before being heinously under-served by the effects work.
Up until then the film is passable, and there are things worth watching it for, Shirley Knight is another. In a film whose running time is less than 80 minutes it tries to spread the tale between too many inconsequential supporting characters, and doesn’t move as quick as it should.
When Mercy is available on rental platforms it’s worth it if you’re curious enough, but in this case sadly the whole is far less than the sum of the parts.