Sometimes horror relies on the element of surprise to get our attention, but that rarely refers to the release date of a new movie. This past Sunday, Netflix quietly dropped the latest Blumhouse production, Mercy Black, and it’s worth checking out.
Just last year, director Owen Egerton’s Blood Fest was released only as a one-night Fathom Event before landing on streaming sites. Perhaps that was to avoid confusion with the widely released and similarly named Hell Fest, but it was disappointing because Egerton’s film was far superior and would have made a killing with bloodthirsty horror crowds. Though it may appear that Mercy Black has suffered a similar fate, the viral potential of a secret Blumhouse release is generating enough buzz to bring attention to this timely flick.
Marina (Daniella Pineda) did something bad – very bad – fifteen years ago. Since then, she’s been living at a facility to help her regain her ability to function in our society and be emotionally well enough to not repeat her past actions. Though she didn’t act alone during her infamous incident, she now feels quite alone in her struggle to become a member of the world again. Her therapist (Janeane Garofalo) and sister Alice (Elle LaMont) offer her some sense of support, but there are just some things she needs to learn for herself.
One of those lessons that she has tried to embrace is the fact that there’s no such thing as Mercy Black. This viral and amorphous concoction from teenaged minds is the closest proximity to Slender Man and his mythology we may ever see on screen, including the unfortunate Slender Man movie of 2018. The nefarious acts Marina committed as a kid were all in the name of that made-up phantom, and along with her PTSD, she has had trouble dealing with the fact that Mercy is not real.
Coming home means moving in with Alice and her son Bryce (Miles Emmons). Bryce introduces Marina to the internet, and Mercy Black shows both the good and the bad that come with that. Marina’s struggles with identifying reality are mirrored both on the cesspool of information online as well as Bryce’s being a kid and still learning about life and truth. This continued confusion seeps throughout the film and makes Marina’s reintegration difficult.
When the horror kicks into gear, Marina’s history becomes far less distant and Bryce gets caught up in the mayhem as well. Mercy Black might not be as made-up as they all thought, and the plot turns into a snake biting its own tail. Mercy Black enjoys rolling around in the absurdity of the mythology and turns into a twisty, pulpy delight that isn’t afraid of truly stretching the plot points to make up a nearly cohesive story.
With the exception of a few scares that fall a little flat (that’s not a pun on one particular incident on the stairs), Mercy Black serves some exceptionally solid B-movie fun.