Welcome to Mercy
Directed by Tommy Bertelsen
Written by Kristen Ruhlin
Starring Lily Newmark, Dainis Grube, Eileen Davies
So when the IFC gets involved in a direct to video release--especially when it's IFC Midnight, its horror imprint--I take notice. IFC has done enough high-end material over the years that I can generally count on them not to drop the ball. Oh, sure, it happens from time to time, but when IFC's involved, it's 90 percent sure this will turn out right. Now, we've got a look at one of its newest, "Welcome to Mercy," to see if it can hold the IFC quality line.
"Welcome to Mercy" follows Madeline, a single mother in Latvia who's just developed a condition seldom seen outside of religious circles: stigmata. That's "bleeding from the hands and / or feet in a fashion similar to the wounds of Jesus Christ," for those not familiar with the term. Anyway, Madeline has just been packed up and shipped off to a convent in the middle of nowhere, because clearly, when you're suddenly bleeding from the hands, you want to be around nuns. Anyway, there's a very real chance that Madaline might have developed this condition because, somehow, she's in line to become the Antichrist. Now, she's got to attempt to short-circuit the Apocalypse backed up by her friend August in a race against the only clock that really matters.
Of course, you could look at a plot like that and wonder what someone was smoking to come up with this. I mean, really; why is some single mom the potential Antichrist? Sure, it's not out of line to suggest that the devil's greatest pawn would be someone completely unknown, but considering what said figure would have to do, the chances of this being some plumber from Poughkeepsie is pretty much nil.
I give this movie credit, though, for being absolutely dark in tone, in spirit, and in scenery. So much of this movie is spent in an Eastern European blackness so pervasive that it's obvious that something is up and it's very bad. Even the daytime scenes are often cloudy and oppressive. It's going to take forever before we even find out what's so wrong here, but man, when things start happening they hit like a bus.
It's also one of the most convincingly-rendered cases of stigmata I think I've ever seen in a movie. I mean, wow...it's a doozy.
The downside here is that it's not likely to stand up to repeat viewings. It's creepy, it's atmospheric, and when you figure out what's going on here all the surprise is sucked out of it like a monkey on an orange. This is a one-shot title, folks; see it, but you'll likely never see it again.
The ending packs a lot of strangeness into one package, but it actually manages to tie up a lot of the loose ends. It makes for an almost shockingly complete package.
Special features include your choice of 5.1 Dolby digital surround and 2.0 Dolby digital stereo sound, your choice of English or Spanish subtitles, and trailers for "Don't Go", "Black '47," "The Clovehitch Killer," and "Welcome to Mercy."
All in all, "Welcome to Mercy" is creepy, strange, and the kind of thing you can only watch once. It's well worth your time to take this plunge, but there's literally no reason to buy a copy.