When viewed, the 2015 film ‘Almost Mercy’, now on Netflix, will surprise spectators by being so much more than it’s classification as a horror film. This dark tale written by Tom DeNucci, who also directs, and B. Dolan takes viewers on the inevitable spiral of Jackson and Emily, two friends who are dejected and terrorized by those around them, including teachers and church pastors. As they find friendship and companionship in only themselves their lives get more and more horrendous as the treatment from those around them evolves more and more hideously every day. Through the narration of Emily, the sanity of the two young sociopaths becomes less and less existent, and it is clear that when they finally break it will be bloodcurdling for their little town in Rhode Island. The only question remains, which one will turn psychotic first.
DeNucci’ and Dolan’s writing is original and fearfully fascinating. There have been other films that follow the fateful journey of serial killers but in this film the writers actually let viewers hear Emily’s dark thoughts along with visually seeing her pain. They are able to make viewers feel compassion for the characters of Jackson and Emily, while clinging to the fear that something bad will inevitable happen. Viewers get a very real, very unnerving, look at how bad it can get for a person, how alone and how close to the edge an individual can get. Everyone either ignores their need for help, or simply aid in pushing them over. DeNucci and Dolan are also able to show the hypocrisy of society and how the forced acceptable standards on people are thrown out the window behind closed doors. While declaring what is normal, those that bully, condemn, and torture those that don’t quite fit in are often, behind closed doors, hiding skeletons even more perverse and more reprehensible than anyone who keeps to themselves or appear weaker. The tension is amazing, and the characters, from the bullys to the teachers are recognizable and absolute.
While her narration is amazing, full of feeling and loneliness, Danielle Guldin’s performance as Emily is decent enough. Her character goes through a lot and although Danielle tries hard, her emotional performances are not stellar. Most of her acting is put into reacting to situations, but her moments of reflection and personal observation feel as if she’s just there. She gives a face to those that are dislocated from society, those that are treated beneath everyone, yet you don’t see her pain or her abject disgust with society as well as we should. Jesse Dufault as Jackson does a better job providing more physical acting when showing his spiral. With his eyes he shows Jackson’s feeling of loss, his feeling of hatred, his feelings of anger, and even his feeling of madness. He isn’t given as much screen time as Danielle, and perhaps that makes the difference. Viewers get use to seeing Emily, while whenever Jackson is on the screen it’s apparent he feels more tortured. In today’s society and media we’ve seen people like Jackson and we wonder if there is a way of saving him before it’s too late. Together on screen Danielle and Jesse portray true connection in two lost souls. Their chemistry is explosive with out needing any romantic entanglements. Kane Hodder is surprisingly skillful at playing Coach Elwood, who believes Emily needs to just take life by the horns. Hodder, who is most known for his roles as the hockey masked killer Jason Voorhees delivers in a very different role that is very believable and identifiable in everyone’s lives. He pushes everyone to be the same and if you don’t fit into his athletic role he immediately thinks they are weak and a burden to him.
Tom DeNucci and B. Dolan give us a very disturbing and very real look at two outcasts and their downward spiral in ‘Amost Mercy’. Their tale makes viewers think about those that they have seen being mistreated, or those that just don’t fit in. Although listed as a horror film, ‘Almost Mercy’ is more of a dark twisted thriller and gory revenge tale while symbolically looking at society. It is a tense story that keeps viewers guessing on which character will take that step off the edge. When that climax arrives, it is ghastly, shocking, and frighteningly understandable. It leaves viewers questioning how they treat one another, and maybe second guessing the motives of those viewed as outsiders.