Thursday, January 22, 2015

Mercy (2014)

 Mercy (2014)

PLOT - A single mother is forced to take care of her elderly mother with her two young sons. It isn't long before the truth behind the grandmother's past is revealed and the youngest grandson discovers that his grandmother withholds deadly powers of dark magic.

LOWDOWN - I guess it would be safe to say that I'm a Stephen King addict. Ever since I could remember his books and films were a staple in my house growing up. As years went on I devoured nearly every single work of his, including short stories. One of my all time favorite collections of his short stories has to be Night Shift. This book had such classics as Strawberry Spring, The Boogyman, Gray Matter, The Ledge, and even Sometimes They Come Back. I can't even tell you how many times I re-read those stories. In fact, my copy I had back in high school was in complete tatters by the end I decided to upgrade to a newer book. It wasn't until shopping at a discount book store that I stumbled upon an original copy of King's follow up collection of short stories. This being Skeleton Crew. Instantly I dove right in discovering such classics as The Monkey, The Jaunt, The Raft, and finally my favorite...


I read this short story within a half an hour and couldn't believe how down right scary it was. In fact, I would even go so far to even say this is one of King's top five best short stories ever.

Gramma tells the story of a dark and windy October afternoon in the famous Castle Rock Maine where a single mother has to leave her youngest son George home alone while she tends to her eldest who's gone to the hospital due to a sports injury. This takes place in a small house on the outskirts of town, near the very same farm featured in King's works as Cujo and Needful Things. The entire short story is told in George's POV since he's left to look after his bedridden over weight grandmother who's senile, and half mad. Over the course of the pages George putters around the kitchen nervously, hoping his grandmother won't wake up before his mother returns. Isolated, he begins to think back on his family's history and how scared his grandmother actually makes him. King's talent of vivid detail puts you right into George's shoes as he describes how his grandmother transformed into a large monster of a woman, with flabby elephant skin, poached egg colored eyes, and how often she would always hold her giant arms out beckoning for him to go to her. The biggest plus with this short story is the family's history, talking about how after the grandmother became senile and too sick how George's uncles and aunts all ganged up on his mother since she was the only single one and forced them to take care of her. The stories about grandmother's speical books, and how she used them to finally be able to have children is truly amazing story telling. The story is a slow burn, and more clues begin to link together as you feel yourself that you're all alone in this creepy dark house with a mad woman who very well could be a monster. The story's climax is truly awesome, and was translated onto the screen in the 1980's with the Twilight Zone re-vamp. 

This was a clever way to shoot the short story, and really captured the over all look and fell of the film (mostly with how gramma looked as over the top as it was.) Sadly nothing besides that was done with this piece of King's work until just a year or so ago I heard the rumors of Mercy...

I thought it was interesting that they were actually trying to make this into a feature length film. I mean just by reading the short story, it was rich with backstory. Without spoiling too much, it pretty goes deeper into the family history. There's a part where the character of George recalls one holiday when his uncle got drunk and he overheard him talking to his mother about gramma. That for years she was unable to have children, in fact at least several times she either had miscarriages or the babies were stillborn. Devastated, believing she was unable to ever have children, she finally found this "magic" books that suddenly had her able to carry a baby to full term. The doctors weren't able to explain it and after many more children, more strange things began to happen because of these books. Both her and her husband were able to have jobs during the depression. It also talks about how once one of her sons angered her and magically he died due to natural causes, then another time when the town church discovered these books she was using and kicked her out of their parish as well as firing her from her job at a local school. How one time when she was getting sicker, she had what her children would call one of her "bad spells" and all the tombstones at a graveyard in town blew up. How once gramma got so bad her other children forced George's mother to take care of her since she was a single mother, and could handle her whenever she had one of her "bad spells". 

Well, I heard about the casting (Chandler Riggs) and thought "Well, that's okay." I've met Chandler before, nice little kid but acting wise. I know all these Walking Dead fans will kill me, far as child actors go, I feel a stronger actor could have made a big difference. 

The movie captured a great overall feel and was beautifully shot. It had some great moments, one of my favorites being George's little girl friend. In fact the twist behind that was eh "so-so" but my favorite scene in the entire movie had to be them talking on the porch on what to do and how suddenly she leans forward, showing how horrible her face/eyes look. Truly a haunting moment that sadly seems to fall into a pretty stale movie.

I think a lot of it was a rushed cheap cop out on a lot of the original story. It held so much promise but the grandmother wasn't scary, the acting not that good, and the final part downright a complete slap in the face to the short story and original Twilight Zone segment. I never wave away a happy ending, but this really didn't belong in this sort of story. In fact King writes how terrified George is of his grandmother, in this they seem like best friends. Sorry, the grandmother was possessed by an evil power, don't try to make her a good guy.

The movie like I said had it's moments, but if you want to check out this story, read the original (which has one Hell of an epic ending, in fact the last few pages are amazing. I love George calling his aunt, and the aftermath when his mother comes home.) Or watch the Twilight Zone segment.

2 Stars

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