Reviewed by: JimmyO
Julie Ann Fay
What's it about
After spending his adult life in prison, a man is freed into a cruel and dark world. Once he is on the outside, memories of his past, and a slew of shady characters haunt his life on the outside.
Is it good movie?
I want to start off by saying how refreshing it is to see a film like Mercy. It is a reminder of a time when films like Eraserhead and other such oddities found some underground success. Shot in black and white, it explores the guilt and paranoia of a man released from a twenty year (or twenty-five if the DVD case is correct) prison sentence. John (Gary Shannon) seems to be humbled as he walks out into the lonely city looking for a new life. He finds an assortment of characters that include a bible spewing preacher, a jaded parole officer, a wannabe actress and a number of other lost souls. As he begins to find solace with this mysterious actress named Eve (Shelly Farrell), he begins to suspect that she may not be the woman she claims to be. Upon this dark noir journey, he begins to wake up with certain body parts cut off or out… you know, an eye here, a finger there. And he suspects Eve may have something to do with it.
Now, although it is refreshing to see a film that delves into atmosphere as much as this, it is not altogether one I would recommend. Director Patrick Roddy has some very dark and beautiful ideas that he conjures up. But often times, he uses the same angle for the dialogue and it tends to feel dull. The script and many of the performances don’t help matters any. Ms. Farrell feels completely out of place as the mysterious starlet. It’s not necessarily a bad performance, just a very odd casting choice that didn’t work. And as for the story arc, it meanders so slowly without any real direction for so long. Not that taking time is a bad thing, but when a film remains as stagnant as this one does for the first half, I wonder why make this a feature length at all. There are several little gems throughout Mercy, one of which is Gary Shannon as John. His is the strongest performance of the lot. He is able to capture the morose nature of the film and makes for a unique leading man. But in the end, this is just too dull and never seems to go much further than the basic idea of guilt and redemption. A short film… definitely. A feature length… eh, maybe not so much.
Video / Audio
Video: The 1.85:1 black and white transfer is good considering the budget.
Audio: This Dolby Digital 2.0 is acceptable, but far from great and it seems to make the flaws in the dubbing a bit obvious.
The special features are minimal, they include a Making of Mercy (5:48) which gives a brief glimpse at the final night of shooting. I liked how it just showed a birds eye view and didn’t go the interview route. Not bad, too bad it couldn’t have been a bit longer.
Next up area a couple of point your remote and click extras including the Movie Comic Book and a Photo Gallery. I think I liked the comic book more than the movie itself. I liked the noir-ish narrative, it might have made the film a more interesting watch.
Finally, we get Trailers for “Mercy”, “Red Room 2”, “Philosophy of a Knife” and a personal favorite, “Frankenhooker”.
I wanted to like Mercy more than I did. I loved the idea of a criminal facing his past and the ghosts that seem to want him back in a padded cell. The music and mood worked oftentimes, especially that creepy song that kept playing at the bar. That particular tune reminded me of the moody jazz music that appeared in Angel Heart, as did some of the visuals that director Patrick Roddy offered up. Yet when it came to dialogue, the direction felt flat and stilted as did the dialogue itself. The performances were mostly amateurish, aside from an interesting leading man, Gary Shannon. Mercy was a good attempt at a dark and mysterious world, but it may have been better suited as a short film.