Tuesday, August 31, 2021

#2,608. Climax (2018)


Gaspar Noe’s Climax is a masterwork, a style-infused journey into hell that will linger in the mind for days.

A group of young dancers gathers at an empty schoolhouse to practice their routines. But their all-night rehearsal mutates into a hallucinatory nightmare when someone laces their sangria with LSD.

The ensemble cast is beyond impressive, anchored by Sofia Boutella’s amazing performance as Selva, a choreographer (a role that essentially makes her the lead character).

But the real star of Climax is director Gaspar Noe, whose reliance on long takes - coupled with his skilled camera movements - intensifies the dread that builds as the story unfolds. Noe’s approach to the material brings an undeniable energy to the early dance scenes, which gives way to a terrifying descent into the abyss once the characters have been drugged, some revealing their innermost secrets and prejudices in a way that is positively chilling.

I was blown away by the craft on display in Climax, and by the time the end credits rolled I was completely drained.
Rating: 9.5 out of 10

Sunday, August 29, 2021

#2,607. Captain John Smith and Pocahontas (1953)


I’ll say this for Captain John Smith and Pocahontas: it crams a hell of a lot into 76 minutes!

Based on actual events, this 1953 film whisks us back to 1607, when John Smith (Anthony Dexter) was the designated leader of Jamestown, Virginia - Britain's first colony in the New World. Low on food and surrounded by hostile natives, Smith and his good friend John Rolfe (Robert Clarke) try to secure the future of Jamestown by making peace with Powhaten (Douglas Dumbrille), chief of all the tribes.

It’s at this time that Smith meets Pocahontas (Jody Lawrence), daughter of Powhaten, who saves his life and eventually becomes his bride.

But even if he does reach an agreement with Powhaten, Smith’s leadership remains tentative at best, as he is opposed at every turn by fellow settler Wingfield (James Seay), a gentleman of high birth who only came to America to find gold.

Like I said, things move quickly in Captain John Smith and Pocahontas. Director Lew Landers managed to squeeze a lot into the movie, including a handful of skirmishes between the settlers and natives.

Yet despite it’s brisk pace, the movie isn’t particularly memorable. The performances are mediocre at best (Dexter is somewhat bland as Smith), and the action scenes, though plentiful, never generate much excitement. Captain John Smith and Pocahontas isn’t a bad film, per se, but it could have been better.
Rating: 5.5 out of 10

Friday, August 27, 2021

#2,606. Taking Woodstock (2009)


I always thought Ang Lee’s Taking Woodstock would be the perfect companion piece to my all-time favorite documentary, 1970’s Woodstock: Three Days of Peace and Music, but I have yet to watch them back-to-back because I can’t decide which should play first! 

Set in the summer of 1969, Taking Woodstock stars Demetri Martin as Elliot Teichberg, a New York-based artist whose parents, Sonia (Imelda Staunton) and Jake (Henry Goodman), own a bargain-basement “resort” in the small upstate town of White Lake, near Bethel, New York. 

Hoping to earn some extra money to save his parents’ floundering business, Elliot decides to expand his annual music festival, and contacts Michael Lang (Jonathan Groff), whose upcoming Woodstock rock venue has been turned away by nearly every small town in the area. 

Together, Elliot and Michael strike a deal with farmer Max Yasgur (Eugene Levy), who agrees to let them use his land, and just like that, Woodstock, the most famous (and infamous) music festival in history, was born.

Taking Woodstock is, at times, a very funny movie; Staunton is hilarious as Elliot’s intensely angry mother, and Dan Fogler (leader of the Starlight theatre group, which rents the barn adjoining Elliot’s property), Emile Hirsch (a PTSD-stricken Vietnam vet) and Liev Schrieber (a cross-dressing ex-marine) get their share of laughs as well. 

But more than anything, Taking Woodstock is a celebration of the festival itself. Like the 1970 documentary, Lee utilizes split screens throughout the film, occasionally showing us the same scene from different perspectives, and some of the more recognizable images from those three days (the mud slides, the nuns flashing the peace sign, the brown acid, etc) are lovingly recreated. 

I’ve seen Taking Woodstock four times now, and it always makes me wish I could have been there (I was born two months too late). Woodstock was an iconic event, and all the chaos, the insanity, and – yes - the magic that made it so memorable has been captured by Lee and his cast, and is here for the taking. I love this movie!
Rating: 9.5 out of 10

Wednesday, August 25, 2021

#2,605. Subway (1985)


Luc Besson’s Subway gets off to a rollicking start; a thief dressed in a tux is driving down the highway, chased by another car (carrying four guys, also wearing tuxedos). It’s a thrilling sequence, the kind you would expect from the filmmaker who’d eventually give us La Femme Nikita and The Fifth Element.

But Subway is not an action flick; it’s a comedy / romance set in the bowels of the Paris Metro, and while most of what follows isn’t nearly as exciting as the opening, it’s still a good deal of fun.

The well-dressed thief on the run is Fred (Christopher Lambert), who has just robbed a house belonging to Helena (Isabelle Adjani), the wealthy wife of a powerful man. Among his ill-gotten gains is an important file, which Fred agrees to return to Helena in exchange for a healthy ransom.

See, Fred is basically a vagrant, who lives in the tunnels and corridors of the Metro alongside his friends and occasional accomplices The Roller (Jean-Hughes Anglade) and The Drummer (Jean Reno). But Fred quickly realizes Helene is more to him than an easy mark; he finds that he’s actually in love with her, and Helene, bored with her life of privilege, might be falling for Fred, too!

While the remainder of Subway may lack the excitement of its opening sequence, it is nonetheless a stylish, high-energy film from start to finish, and we spend enough time with Fred and his buddies to realize they’re life’s lovable losers, just hoping to get lucky. Which, it seems, is exactly what happens to Fred when he “meets” Helene; he can’t stop thinking about her, at one point calling her at two o’clock in the morning to hear her voice.

Lambert, Adjani, and the rest of the cast are strong (including Michael Galibrau, who is quite funny as the hard-nosed Chief of the Subway’s security force), and while the story takes a few sharp turns along the way (there’s a subplot about Fred putting together a band), Subway is always entertaining.
Rating: 9 out of 10

Monday, August 23, 2021

#2,604. San Francisco (1936)


Directed by W.S. Van Dyke, San Francisco opens on New Years’ Eve, the final moments of 1905. Blackie Norton (Clark Gable) has lived in San Francisco his entire life, and owns “The Paradise”, the city’s most popular nightclub. 

Though he has a good heart, Blackie has always been a bit of a scoundrel, and not even his childhood friend, Father Tim (Spencer Tracy), can make him change his ways. 

Then Blackie meets Mary Blake (Jeanette MacDonald), a wannabe opera singer from Colorado. Despite her squeaky-clean persona (she’s the daughter of a parson), Blackie falls head-over-heels in love with Mary, and hires her to perform at his club. But will Mary stay at "The Paradise", or was she meant for bigger and better things? 

Gable plays Blackie as larger-than-life, a guy everyone knows and most people love, while Jeanette MacDonald is given ample opportunity to show off her amazing singing voice (her rendition of the tune “San Francisco” is a highlight). And even though the character of Father Tim is something of a cliché (the kindly but streetwise priest who tries to get the hero to see the error of his ways), Tracy delivers a subdued, restrained performance that makes you buy everything he says hook, line, and sinker. 

And then there’s the story at the center of it all; much like 1933’s Deluge, San Francisco is an early disaster film (an opening title card mentions the earthquake that destroyed the city in April of 1906, and the movie concludes with this very tragedy). Yet because the characters are so engaging, - the events so well-played – you completely forget about the catastrophe to come. So when the earthquake does strike (and it strikes hard), we’re as devastated as the characters themselves.

San Francisco delivers the goods in every way imaginable (it’s even a rousing musical at times) and is the kind of grand, lavish entertainment that MGM turned out in the ‘30s and beyond. Don’t miss it!
Rating: 9 out of 10

Saturday, August 21, 2021

#2,603. 1917 (2019) - Spotlight on England


A number of strong films were released in 2019, from Quentin Tarantino’s newest opus Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood to Mike Flanagan’s excellent Doctor Sleep, a sequel to Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining.

But as far as I’m concerned, Sam Mendes’ epic World War One tale 1917 was the movie of the year.

To prevent the slaughter of an entire regiment, Lance Corporals Schofield (George MacKay) and Blake (Dean-Charles Chapman) volunteer to travel across no-mans-land and into enemy territory to deliver a message to Col. MacKenzie: call off the upcoming attack. If the two are successful, they will have saved the lives of some 1,600 men, including Blake’s own brother. If they fail, the regiment will be walking into a trap set by the Germans.

Utilizing long, continuous shots, 1917 puts its audience smack dab in the middle of the action, as if we’re walking alongside Schofield and Blake in real-time as they carry out their mission. It’s a unique approach, pulled off brilliantly by Mendes and his crew, but more than that, this stylistic choice shows us, in no uncertain terms, just how quickly danger can sneak up on an unsuspecting soldier (an early scene in the German trenches involving a rat is the first of many such sequences).

The moment the two leads begin their mission, 1917 moves forward at full-throttle, maintaining a high level of excitement and tension that never lets up. Skillfully executed by everyone involved, from the actors through to the production designers, 1917 is destined to stand alongside Grand Illusion, Gallipoli, and All Quiet on the Western Front as one the greatest WWI films of all-time.
Rating: 10 out of 10

Thursday, August 19, 2021

#2,602. Vamp (1986)


A fun, funny vampire comedy from director Richard Wenk, Vamp is one of those endearing movies that, regardless of how goofy it gets, you can’t help but love. 

To impress their potential fraternity brothers, pledges Keith (Chris Makepeace) and A.J. (Robert Rusler) agree to find a stripper for the frat’s big party later that night. Borrowing a car from the wealthy yet dim-witted Duncan (Gedde Watanabe), they head into the city, where they stumble upon the After Dark strip club. 

The main attraction at the club is the mysterious Katrina (Grace Jones), but when A.J. tries to hire her for the night, he quickly discovers that neither she nor the After Dark are what they appear to be. 

While watching Vamp, I couldn’t shake the feeling that it must have influenced Tarantino’s script for From Dusk Till Dawn (a strip club used as a front for bloodthirsty vampires), and like that movie the vampires in this 1986 film are vicious when they’re hungry (the scene with Grace Jones and Robert Rusler is particularly brutal). Along with its bloodthirsty beauties, Vamp is a funny flick. Watanabe gets his share of laughs as the needy Duncan, as does Sandy Baron as Vic, the seedy manager of the After Dark, and the blending of comedy and horror is one of the film’s strongest attributes. 

Performance-wise, Chris Makepeace is decent as Keith, though he’s often upstaged by both Robert Rusler (so good as the scheming A.J.) and Dedee Pfieffer (as Allison, the ditzy stripper with a heart of gold). The standout, though, is easily Grace Jones, who, without delivering a single line of dialogue, is both sexy and charismatic as the lethal Katrina. Her dance routine is the highlight of the movie. 

If you enjoy horror comedies, you should immediately move Vamp to the top of your queue. 
Rating: 9 out of 10 

Tuesday, August 17, 2021

#2,601. The Night My Number Came Up (1955) - Spotlight on England


This lesser-known Ealing Studios release plays like an extended episode of The Twilight Zone.

While at a party in Hong Kong, British Naval Commander Lindsey (Michael Horndem) tells some of the other guests, including Air Marshall Hardie (Michael Redgrave), Hardie’s personal assistant McKenzie (Denholm Elliott), and government official Owen Robertson (Alexander Knox), about a dream he had the night before, in which the plane the three men were scheduled to board the next day along with 5 additional passengers crashed off the coast of Japan.

Though they initially laugh it off, Hardie, McKenzie, and Robertson soon find themselves worrying when even the most unlikely details of Lindsey’s dream start coming true.

Supposedly based on a true story (lifted from the personal journal of British Air Marshal Sir Victor Goddard), The Night My Number Came Up is an intriguing supernatural thriller, yet it’s the more dramatic moments, when the passengers on board the plane slowly realize they may be in great danger, where the film truly shines.

Redgrave, Elliott, and Knox deliver top-notch performances, as does Shelia Sim, playing yet another passenger. The script, smartly written by R.C. Sherriff, delves a little into the issue of fate versus free will, and even though we know up-front what’s ultimately going to happen (it’s revealed in the opening scene), the movie nonetheless remains tense throughout.
Rating: 8 out of 10

Sunday, August 15, 2021

#2,600. Pride and Prejudice (1940)


Over the years, there have been several big-screen adaptations of Pride and Prejudice (I particularly enjoyed Joe Wright’s 2005 version with Kiera Knightley), yet few matched the star power of director Robert Z. Leonard’s 1940 translation, which featured a cast that would have impressed Jane Austen herself. 

The arrival of two wealthy bachelors, who have taken up residence in a nearby estate, has given hope to Mrs. Bennet (Mary Boland) and her quest to find the perfect husbands for her five daughters: Elizabeth (Greer Garson), Jane (Maureen O’Sullivan), Mary (Marsha Hunt), Lydia (Anne Rutherford), and Kitty (Heather Angel). The gentlemen in question, Mr. Bingley (Bruce Lester) and Mr. Darcy (Laurence Olivier), do eventually meet the Bennet sisters, with Bingley falling head-over-heels in love with Jane. As for Darcy, he undertakes a tempestuous relationship with Elizabeth Bennet, who rejects him at first because she thinks he’s a snob. 

Anyone familiar with Jane Austen’s 1813 novel knows this synopsis only scratches the surface; there are many additional characters , all of which were perfectly cast in this film, including the patriarch of the Bennet clan (Edmund Gwenn, aka Santa in the original Miracle on 34th Street) Bingley’s prudish sister Caroline (Frieda Inescort); the Bennet’s boorish cousin Mr. Collins (Melville Cooper); and Darcy’s headstrong Aunt, Lady Catherine De Bourgh (superbly portrayed by Edna May Oliver). 

Yet despite its outstanding supporting players, Pride and Prejudice belongs to stars Garson and Olivier, whose scenes together are, without a doubt, the film’s most memorable (Garson is especially splendid as the bright, stubborn Elizabeth). 

The sets and costumes are also top-notch, but it’s the performances that made this version of Pride and Prejudice the classic that it is. 
Rating: 9 out of 10

Friday, August 13, 2021

#2,599. Only Lovers Left Alive (2013)


Written and directed by Jim Jarmusch, Only Lovers Left Alive is an intensely unique and utterly fascinating vampire movie, portraying the undead not as tortured souls or bloodsucking monsters but as witnesses to history, who have learned to appreciate art, literature, music, and what it truly means to be alive.

Adam (Tom Hiddelston), a centuries-old musician / vampire, resides in Detroit. His wife Eve (Tilda Swinton) lives in Tangiers, and while she enjoys her occasional visits with old friend and fellow vampire Christopher “Kit” Marlowe (John Hurt), she misses her beloved.

So Eve hops a nighttime flight to America and reunites with her husband of many, many years. But Eve’s troublesome sister Ava (Mia Wasikowska) has somehow tracked them down, and her flighty attitude threatens not only Adam and Eve’s happiness, but their everlasting lives as well.

With extraordinary performances throughout, Only Lovers Left Alive paints an idyllic portrait of a vampire’s existence, depicting them as advanced beings who have taken full advantage of the centuries, experiencing all that the world has (and had) to offer. Adam is an accomplished musician in nearly every musical style, while Eve reads a wide variety of books, printed in dozens of languages. They are not merely the bloodthirsty undead; Adam and Eve are poets, scholars, and as engaging as any movie characters I have ever encountered.

Relying on his patented low-key approach, Jarmusch has crafted a singular motion picture; not since The Lost Boys has a movie made vampirism look so damned appealing!
Rating: 10 out of 10

Wednesday, August 11, 2021

#2,598. The Vampire Lovers (1970) - Hammer Horror Movies


From the late 50s to the mid-‘70s, U.K’s Hammer Films turned out a number of vampire movies, from their 1958 remake of Dracula (titled Horror of Dracula in the United States) and its subsequent sequels to the hugely entertaining 1974 outing Captain Kronos - Vampire Hunter

In between, the studio produced a trio of movies based on Sheridam Le Fanu’s 1872 novella Carmilla, dubbed “The Karnstein Trilogy”. The Vampire Lovers, released in 1970, was the first of these films (followed by Lust of a Vampire and Twins of Evil, both 1971). Combining Hammer’s time-honored tradition of period stories and gothic set pieces with a new, more daring approach to sexuality, The Vampire Lovers proved an extraordinary motion picture. 

Set in 19th century Austria, The Vampire Lovers centers on Marcilla (Ingrid Pitt), a young vampire who, soon after the film opens, seduces and kills Laura (Pippa Steel), the niece of General Spielsdorf (the great Peter Cushing). 

From there, Marcilla (now calling herself Carmilla) is invited to stay with the Morton family, where she sets her sights on Emma (Madeline Smith), the daughter of Roger Morton (George Cole). Will Carmilla’s secret be revealed before another innocent dies, or will her reign of terror continue? 

As mentioned already, the set pieces are one of the film’s strengths; the opening sequence, a flashback to when Baron von Hartog (Douglas Wilmer) faced off against the Karnstein vampires, is as creepy as it is impressive (the castle, as well as the adjoining cemetery, is the stuff of nightmares). In sharp contrast, while at the same time complimenting its gothic elements, is the film’s overt sexuality, with Pitt playing the most convincing lesbian vampire I’ve ever seen in a movie (there’s no shortage of nudity, and a scene in which Pitt and Smith wrestle topless on a bed is sensual and disturbing). 

 Hammer’s heyday may have been over by the time the '70s rolled around, but with The Vampire Lovers, Twins of Evil, Vampire Circus and Captain Kronos – Vampire Hunter, the studio proved their magic was just as strong as ever. 
Rating: 9 out of 10

Monday, August 9, 2021

#2,597. Bunuel in the Labyrinth of the Turtles (2018)


Directed by Salvador Simo and based on a graphic novel by Fermin Solis, Bunuel in the Labyrinth of the Turtles relates the true story of how filmmaker Luis Bunuel (voiced by Jorge Uson) shot his 1933 documentary Land Without Bread in the Las Hurdes region of Spain.

Using money that his good friend, sculptor Ramon Acin (Fernando Ramos), won on a lottery ticket, Bunuel hires a crew, buys a new car to transport the equipment, and heads to the mountainous, rustic Las Hurdes to make what he hopes will be a realistic film about the locals and their way of life.

But Bunuel’s domineering personality, as well as his penchant for stirring up drama, soon has everyone wondering if the movie will ever be completed.

Along with being a very unique biopic (there are flashbacks to Bunuel’s childhood) and a snapshot of Spain just prior to the outbreak of civil war, Bunuel in the Labyrinth of the Turtles is a fascinating glimpse into the mind of a famous filmmaker, whose brilliance occasionally played second fiddle to his enormous ego (though shooting a documentary, Bunuel had no problem staging scenes to get what he wanted, at one point going so far as to force a goat off the side of a cliff and filming the animal after it plummeted to its death).

Unflinching in its depiction of its main subject’s strengths as well as his weaknesses, Bunuel in the Labyrinth of the Turtles is an animated movie that cinephiles will absolutely love!
Rating: 9 out of 10

Saturday, August 7, 2021

#2,596. The Night Strangler (1973)


A sequel to the wildly popular 1972 made-for-TV film The Night Stalker, Dan Curtis’s The Night Strangler once again centers on the exploits of Carl Kolchak (Darren McGavin), a newspaper reporter who moved from Las Vegas to Seattle, where he is hired by his former editor, Vincenzo (Simon Oakland). 

Kolchak's first assignment: a recent killing in which the victim, an exotic dancer, was strangled and drained of a small amount of blood. As Kolchak digs deeper into this story, he discovers that similar murders have been occurring in that section of the city from as far back as 1889, and repeating every 21 years! 

Much to the dismay of Vincenzo and Captain Schubert (Scott Brady) of the Seattle police department, Kolchak continues to dig, teaming up with researcher Titus Berry (Wally Cox) and belly dancer Louise Harper (Jo Ann Pflug) to get to the bottom of this very baffling mystery. 

Directed by Dan Curtis (the man behind the Dark Shadows series as well as the excellent anthology film Trilogy of Terror), The Night Strangler was written by the great Richard Matheson, who also penned The Last Man on Earth, Corman’s House of Usher, and a slew of other genre films and TV episodes. In addition, this sequel features such notable stars as John Carradine (as the editor of Kolchak’s paper), Al Lewis (a homeless guy) and The Wizard of Oz’s Margaret Hamilton (a university professor). 

Yet as impressive as all that is, The Night Strangler would have been nothing without Darren McGavin’s portrayal of Carl Kolchak, a pushy-as-hell newspaperman who refuses to quit until he has the whole story. Also doubling as the movie’s narrator, McGavin shines in every single scene, breathing life into a character you can’t help but love. Kolchak proved so popular, in fact, that he was given his own TV series, which ran on ABC from 1974-1975. 
Rating: 9 out of 10

Thursday, August 5, 2021

#2,595. The Story of Louis Pasteur (1936)


Paul Muni shines as the noted French scientist whose groundbreaking work in microbiology revolutionized the medical field, but what makes this period biopic so unusual is the way it presents its story.

The Academy Award-winning screenplay, co-written by Pierre Collings and Sheridan Gibney, spends a great deal of time explaining the science behind Pasteur’s work. Early on, when he and his colleagues are trying to find a cure for anthrax, which is wiping out the country’s sheep population, we’re treated to numerous slides - viewed under a microscope - showing cultures of healthy blood cells and those infected with the disease.

That’s not to say The Story of Louis Pasteur is all business; there’s a romantic subplot involving Pasteur’s daughter Annette (Anita Louise), who becomes engaged to – and eventually marries – Jean Martel (Donald Woods), a colleague of Pasteur's, and the great scientist is often forced to defend his research, which is repeatedly attacked by Dr. Charbonnet (Fritz Lieber Sr.), the personal surgeon of the Emperor (Walter Kingsford).

But it’s the film’s attention to detail, and the manner in which it honors Pasteur’s legacy, that makes The Story of Louis Pasteur a truly fascinating motion picture.
Rating: 9 out of 10

Tuesday, August 3, 2021

#2,594. Daughters of Darkness (1971)


At first glance, director Harry Kumel’s Daughters of Darkness looks like a run-of-the-mill exploitation film (the movie opens with a sex scene, set on a train). But with its multi-layered characters and stylized approach to the material, it quickly becomes apparent this vampire flick has more in common with an arthouse production than it does your typical bit of Eurosleaze. 

The recently married Stefan (John Karlen) and Valerie (Danielle Ouimet) are honeymooning in the seaside town of Ostend, Belgium. Because it’s the off-season, only one other guest has checked into the spacious hotel: the Hungarian Countess Elizabeth Bathory (Delphine Seyrig), who is sharing a room with her assistant Ilona (Andrea Rau). 

The hotel’s concierge (Paul Esser) claims he remembers the last time the Countess stayed there, and even though it was 40 years ago, she doesn’t look as if she’s aged a day! 

 Is the Countess a vampire, and if so, why is she so determined to befriend Stefan and Valerie? 

Gorgeously shot by cinematographer Eduard van der Enden, Daughters of Darkness is as much a character study as it is a horror film. Seyrig brings a likability to the Countess, even though we realize early on there’s something sinister about her (she’s immediately smitten with Valerie, and goes out of her way to impress the young bride), and Karlen shines as Stefan, whose secretive nature may be masking a dark side that his new wife knows nothing about (he refuses to tell his mother that he’s married, and a day trip to Bruges reveals that he’s fascinated by death). 

While it does move slower than your average ‘70s horror film, Daughters of Darkness nonetheless offers viewers more than a few cheap thrills, and those with patience will find it a rewarding experience. 
Rating: 7.5 out of 10

Sunday, August 1, 2021

#2,593. Welcome to Mercy (2018)


A horror / mystery steeped in religious ideology, Welcome to Mercy stars Kristen Ruhlin (who also penned the screenplay) as Madeline, a single mother who, along with her daughter Willow (Sophia Massa), travels to a remote region of Latvia to visit her ailing father.

Madeline’s mother, Yelena (Svetlana Ivannikova), is none too happy to see her daughter, and tries to convince Madeline to stay at a hotel. But a storm prevents her from doing so, and that night, Madeline has an experience that awakens something inside of her, an evil that, by all accounts, has been with her since she was a little girl.

There’s more to the movie than my synopsis might suggest; after a frightening event that she cannot remember, Madeline is whisked away to a convent to be “studied”, and there meets the strange but friendly August (Lily Newmark), one of the younger nuns, who takes a liking to the new arrival.

Even this is still just scratching the surface, and for a fair portion of its runtime I found Welcome to Mercy a frustrating experience. Whenever Madeline was about to uncover an answer or learn something about her “condition”, the film would take off in another direction, ensuring that she (and, in turn, we the audience) was left completely in the dark.

For a time, it felt like Welcome to Mercy was circling something important (there’s talk of blessings, curses, stigmata, and hints of demonic possession), yet the movie never seemed to zero in on anything of substance, and after a while I began to lose interest.

But then the big reveal arrives, and I admit I was wowed; I didn’t see it coming, and it threw a new light on everything that went before it.

I’m still undecided as to whether or not the destination justified the journey, but the movie is unique enough - and the conclusion surprising enough – to, at the very least, warrant a recommendation.
Rating: 7 out of 10