Directed by Tom DeNucci [Other horror films: Self Storage (2013), Army of the Damned (2013)]
Almost Mercy isn’t your typical horror film. Narrated by our main character Emily, it chronicles her life growing up with her best friend Jackson, the difficulties they’ve both had, and how messed up they become.
It’s an interesting mix of real-world drama and sarcastic, almost manic at points, narration by Emily, as she lets the audience know about how she first meant Jackson, or how, after being raped, the authorities did nothing because the rapists were “important to the community.” While the first forty minutes has Emily focusing on Jackson and what he went through, it turns more toward Emily after an aborted school shooting.
Honestly, there’s not much horror going on for the first fifty minutes of so, save an instance or two of blood spill. It’s more a dramatic comedy, with Emily, while going through a shitty, disconnected life, goes on about Jackson, her screwed up mother, and the creeps who make the town they live in a terrible place. I can imagine that some would call a majority of the film both meandering and boring, not to mention disjointed in tone. One second, a boy is mocked and terrorized by bullies, the next, Emily’s joking about some aspect or another of her life. That said, I rather liked how the film played out.
While at times I thought the narration was a bit too comedic, I thought we really got to learn about and even care about Emily and Jackson. When Jackson is expelled from school, you can feel for him. When Emily’s mother attempts suicide, you can feel her disdain for her father, as he walked out on them. It felt real, in short. The film takes a turn in the final thirty minutes or so, and it was a logical, satisfactory one.
Let’s talk actors and actresses. Young Emily, played by Eva Senerchia, did a really good job, being as young as she is, showing us the dispassionate life that sometimes a young kid can go through. Danielle Guldin, who played grown-up Emily, did a fantastic job in her role and narration. Grown-up Jackson, played by Jesse Dufault, did pretty good also, though more focus was spent on Emily (which makes sense, as the film was through her point-of-view). Kane Hodder and Bill Moseley, playing a high school coach and a church pastor, respectively, are good in their roles.
Though it takes a while to get there, the gore is also quite solid, and the killing spree at the end was on point, if not occasionally riddled with unnecessary comedic commentary. Almost Mercy seems to be the type of film that will turn off some horror fans. It’s not conventional, it’s a bit enthusiastic in it’s presentation, and the “twist” might not do much for some. Personally, though, despite it’s few shortcomings, I thought it was a great quirky film. It’s not for everyone, but it was for me.