Mercy Falls (2023) Review

Spoiler-free so you can read before you watch

Mercy Falls (2023) Review

Horrorific content by angie on August 02nd, 2023 | Movie Review | Survival, Drama, Wilderness, Thriller, Mystery, Isolation, B-Horror

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It's about a group of friends who set off into the Scottish Highlands in search of a long lost cabin. Once far from civilization, an unforeseen tragedy befalls the group and one bad decision leads to suspicion, betrayal and murder.

Mercy Falls was directed by Ryan Hendrick and stars Lauren LyleNicolette McKeownJames WattersonLayla KirkJoe RisingEoin Sweeney, and Gilly Gilchrist.

Mercy Falls Review

Mercy Falls delivers all the familiar elements that draw me to rugged mountain landscapes, breathtaking lochs, lively ceilidh bands, and abundant forests. The story revolves around Rhona (Lyle) and her friends embarking on a quest to find her late father's cabin deep in the wilderness. To aid them in their search, they enlist the help of Carla (McKeown), a local they meet during a pre-trip planning get-together. Little do they know that once they're away from civilization, Carla's true nature reveals itself, and the group faces a shocking and dangerous situation.

The "trip into the woods gone wrong" is a well-known subgenre of horror that has stood the test of time. Its popularity is partially due to its cost-effectiveness – why bother with elaborate sets when a forest can serve as a chilling backdrop for most of the film? However, the choice of location comes with its challenges, as Scottish filmmakers often contend with the region's relentless and blood-sucking midges, notorious pests. Despite the lack of groundbreaking elements in this incarnation of the genre, horror thrives on effective execution rather than innovation. The movie does have a slight twist by having the threat come from within the group, and the fact that both lead characters are women adds a noteworthy dimension.

In terms of execution, the film is a mixed bag. The supporting characters remain somewhat one-dimensional, embodying familiar horror tropes – the promiscuous one, the obnoxious one, and the nerdy one. Their primary function is to meet their demise at the hands of Carla, the menacing antagonist. The special effects are decent, though not overly extensive. An awe-inspiring moment involves a prolonged impalement, buoyed by the victim's convincing portrayal of agony. However, the script occasionally falters, with a few eye-rolling moments, such as the questionable decision to engage in a sexual encounter while fearing for their lives. At 103 minutes, some trimming might have tightened the plot, but the film compensates with its picturesque scenery, showcasing Scotland's natural beauty.

As expected, the story builds up to a climactic face-off between the heroine and the villainess. While the showdown is engaging, it raises some concerns. Given Carla's background and capabilities, she should overpower Rhona effortlessly. To balance the odds, perhaps handicapping Carla with an injury could have added more tension to the final confrontation. Nevertheless, viewers are invested in the narrative by this point, thanks in part to McKeown's convincing portrayal of a formidable nemesis. Her ability to swiftly switch from friendly to menacing injects a sense of dread and unpredictability into the proceedings.

Worth Watching?

In conclusion, the film may need to be more ambitious, but it successfully entertains its audience. It fulfills the expectations of a horror film, providing enough thrills and suspense to keep viewers engaged. The familiar tropes and the classic "trip into the woods gone wrong" theme may not break new ground, but they serve their purpose effectively. Overall, the film does justice to the allure of Scottish cinema, offering a combination of stunning landscapes and a chilling tale of survival.

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