“Though shalt not suffer a witch to live.” Usually when a child has a substantial role in a horror or sci-fi film, they are nothing more than an annoying, crying, screaming abscess you would like to see done away with by whatever monster is chasing them (ex. Dakota Fanning in War of the Worlds). However, 15-year-old Chandler Riggs (of The Walking Dead fame; a show I do not watch), who has the lead role of George in Mercy, does an outstanding and serious job as a bullied child whose best friend in life is his grandmother Mercy (Shirley Knight). She is the only person who instills confidence in him and is there for him. When she soon suffers a stroke it gives her a personality change and form of psychosis. Because of this, he spends more time with other members of his family and begins to realize there is a very dark side to his grandmother’s past now rearing its ugly head.
Though he never noticed, the sometimes too perfect home and life she lived may have actually been the result of a pact with a demon she made when she was younger, which she sought after suffering through the tragedy of losing a baby to a miscarriage. As the story unfolds, young George goes through hell and back while trying to care for her and understand what the big family secret is all about. This is a very dark film that encompasses many sub-genres of horror, including psychological and religious/demonic themes, while masked as a mystery and thriller.
For a movie I had never heard of when it came out, I was impressed by the acting of the entire cast as well as the cinematography and wonder why it has such a low score on various film websites. While not necessarily frightening until the ending, the pacing and dramatic tension build-up tightly weaves together an interesting story-line that should hold your attention. I found this to be very enjoyable, and one of the rare occasions when a Stephen King book (this is based on his short story Gramma) translates into an entertaining, unambiguous film. Give it a shot. Also starring Frances O’Connor, Joel Courtney, and Dylan McDermott. Directed by Peter Cornwell.
7.5 out of 10 stars.
More articles in this special “Halloween Twenty-Fifteen” column can be found here.