Netflix just recently put up Mercy, a home invasion horror (more-so thriller) film from writer and director Chris Sparling. And while Netflix has an outstanding record of shelling out fantastic original content in the serial television department, their original cinema programming is often left wanting. I can't recall a Netflix original film I have fully appreciated whereas I'd have to go to my undead toes to count the TV programs I've adored. Mercy, unfortunately, did not buck the trend.
Mercy follows four estranged brothers (two sets of half-brothers) and the father of two of the young men as they seemingly care for their dying mother and bicker over her estate. As they mysteriously plot on through the night, a group of assailants descend upon the house. Unsure of who to trust, who the assailants are, or what their intentions may be, the brothers attempt to survive the night.
Mercy is a jumbled mess of a story, relying far too heavily on subtlety and misdirection to the point of disrupting the plot and disregarding the characters. A good mystery must still remain coherent, and this film is far from coherent. The jagged plotline dives from complexity right into complication. And while some of the twists and turns are commendable, they are compiled from a heap of plot-holes that I am simply unable to dismiss.
With a film that is far too dark (I mean literal lighting) and has little focus on individuality of its characters, you feel completely lost on who is who...so even if there was a decisive revelation, you wouldn't be sure you noticed it. Wait...who's dead? Who killed who? I feel like I'm watching Black Hawk Down sleep-drunk for the first time. Everyone looks and acts the same amidst a sea of chaos. I'm trying to identify who I think are key characters in a smorgasbord of facial hair.
It's difficult to scrounge for redeemable qualities because a film like this that relies on the resolution of its mystery to deliver its value can't fall short of that in the way this film did. The vagueness of everyone's intentions never comes to any concise fruition. And while you may walk away with some level of knowledge of the goings-on, you will struggle to fully understand. And while being hung out to dry on comprehension can be a defining quality of horror, it simply isn't when the plot's subtle voice is whispering resolution from beginning to end, failing to properly deliver.
Horror Qualifier: 6/10
Horror Quality: 3/10
Film Quality: 2/10