Mercy Black is a by-the-book horror film that tries to create a new urban legend figure but completely fails to do so.
Mercy Black is directed by Owen Egerton (Bloodfest) and stars Daniella Pineda (Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom), Janeane Garofalo (Mystery Men), Elle LaMont (Alita: Battle Angel) and Austin Amelio (The Walking Dead) and is a horror film, trying to copy the urban legend ideas of Slender Man.
Mercy Black starts with the warning of ‘Do you know Mercy? Do you know her Name? She’ll take away your hurt if you promise her your pain’. Young Marina gets led down a dark path which saw her stab a classmate, to conjure a phantom known as ‘Mercy Black’. 15-years-later Marina (Pineda) is being released by Dr. Ward (Garofalo) who has spent this time helping her through the ideas that made her create Mercy. Marina is released to her sister Alice (LaMont) as she looks to start a life for the first time. Unknown to Marina, the name Mercy Black has become a viral sensation with copycat killers out there, all because of Marina’s story. Marina must figure out if Mercy Black is real or not before the spread of the name takes over her life with her nephew Bryce (Miles Emmons) becoming interested in the story.
Mercy Black has a story which decides to capitalize on the idea that people can make an urban legend more than they are, a lot like Slender Man tried to do last year, only Mercy Black is a newly created urban legend which is what many horror stories are built upon. We can praise the attempts to try and create something new because an original idea is what we call for, but the problem with this idea is that it gets stuck in the middle of two options, never letting either pay off to an effective level. You will end up feeling like there was a lot more to come from this movie, because the characters are not developed very well at all. We do have a scene where we focus on somebody who has been researching Mercy Black, but this ends up going nowhere either, almost forgotten. The final big weakness in the story comes from the pace because we jump between what happened with Marina as a child, through her memories, but it happens so often we just don’t get the time to invest in the present-time moments.
Mercy Black has actors that do struggle. It is always hard to say an actor does a bad job with characters that have little development about them, and Daniella Pineda really doesn’t get a chance to do anything with her leading role. We get the bigger name draw in Janeane Garofalo, who barely gets any screen time, with Miles Emmons as the nephew being the strongest of the poor cast.
Mercy Black is a horror, so we do need to look at the question: does it scare us? The simple answer is no. We get the routine sequences we know: a completely pointless bath scene, because we need to put the pretty lead actress in a suggestive nude scene for no reason, the ‘don’t do that’ moment… the scares are so by the book you know the exact moment the jump is meant to happen.
Overall Mercy Black is the most rote and weak horror you will see this year. We go down so many false paths which should be investigated more only to get forgotten, and you can predict every scene’s direction easily.
Darren starting writing for films at Movies Reviews 101. He joined the Ready Steady Cut team in 2018 and is a proud member of the LAMB (Large Association of movie bloggers).