Peace Arch Entertainment // 2008 // 90 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // October 15th, 2008
Evil lives one floor down.
Demon possession and creepy girls drawing on a wall calendar with blood -- sounds like a good time.
The Winter family is on the prowl for an apartment and score a doozy when they happen upon a spacious flat overlooking a gigantic backyard. Unfortunately, the landlord, one Tyler Grant (Stephen Rea), has made some kind of deal with The Devil, or maybe one of his evil demon subordinates. On the surface, it seems like he's a normal guy with a normal niece, but he's got some evil machinations brewing and has the young, un-baptized Winter boy in his sights.
Skeptical of the weirdo landlord, and confused by her husband's bizarre, possibly Hell-spawned illness, Mrs. Winter takes it upon herself to investigate the goings-on and what she finds is...a weirdo landlord who's got some evil machinations brewing.
The Devil's Mercy is a half-decent little supernatural thriller that is well-acted and atmospheric -- and that's about it because I can't remember a whole lot more. The film's not bad. Like, objectively it's not bad. The movie is put together well, but there just isn't anything memorable about it and that, I fear, will damn it to an eternity in Just Another Psychological Horror DVD Limbo.
The sinister plot put together by the writer is a decent one. Grant forked over his soul and has to do the bidding of his demonic soul-holder which includes smiting this unbaptized kid on a certain day. It's a cool setup, as far as selling-your-soul-to-the-devil-or-a-devil setups go, and with the added shenanigans of the bad mojo turned into the Hell that's foisted on the husband, the spooky atmosphere is well-realized.
The characters that populate this drama are just as well-realized: Grant is a fine heavy, slick and too-nice from the outset. But because we're introduced to his dark side almost immediately, we get to see him play both sides and Stephen Rea delivers. The children in the film are both impressive (especially the niece, who is responsible for the movie's more jarring sequences) and the Winter couple make good protagonists, though Dad is essentially useless.
These are all nice thing to say about Devil's Mercy, and they're true, but a lethargic pace -- save for a sporadic jump scene once in a while -- holds the film back. Things get a bit zanier at the end, when the Satanic payoff goes down, but by then I just wasn't feeling it.
One more thing: This movie has one of the dumbest waking-up-from-a-nightmare sequences ever put to film, involving three dreams and three separate characters. I was expecting the key grip to wake up screaming at the end of the credits.
Peace Arch dispenses a solid DVD, featuring a 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen, 5.1 Dolby surround mix, a making-of featurette, and a photo gallery.
The movie's fine, though slow momentum keeps it from distinguishing itself.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Peace Arch Entertainment
* 1.85:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
Running Time: 90 Minutes
Release Year: 2008
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Photo Gallery