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

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