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  • Rev Horror

Mercy Falls

Dir. Ryan Hendrick (2023)

A group of friends go looking for a cabin in the woods, but an accident threatens to make them turn on each other.


Look, I get it. I know that when you're young, you're supposed to be carefree and spontaneous, going with the flow and traipsing off into the woods with whatever strangers you happen to meet at the local pub in the middle of nowhere. Maybe it's just me, but that never seemed like a bright idea to me, largely because I was a big fan of horror from a young age and learned early on that if you trust random strangers they're going to murder you and chop you into little pieces before they feed you to their inbred family members. And yet these folks still insist on befriending random strangers, no matter how many times one member of their group says its a bad idea, and they invariably run into trouble time and time again.

While the premise of Mercy Falls may not be particularly groundbreaking, it is a surprisingly skillful take on the survival horror genre with a few shocking scenes of violence. The stranger who comes across the group of travelers, Carla (Nicolette McKeown), in this case is an army deserter with a seriously badass set of skills. When two of the men in the group get into a fight, causing one to fall on a branch and fatally pierce an artery in his leg, Carla puts him out of his misery in a brutal display of pragmatism. This, naturally, leaves the group aghast, and what was once a leisurely search for a lost cabin becomes a fight for survival against someone who is trained for that exact thing.

The downside of survival horror is that it's often incredibly slow, and Mercy Falls is no different. The key to creating a good survival horror film is to make it as realistic as possible, and unfortunately everything happening slowly is what makes these types of films more realistic. While the film itself does move along at a snail's pace at times, the tension is sufficiently ratcheted up throughout and the obstacles that come between our group of unfortunate travelers and safety are terrifying in scope and plausibility. Crossing a log bridge across a chasm a hundred feet up is a real possibility when you're trying to run from someone in the deep woods, as is the constant upper hand that someone with military training would have in this scenario. Being hunted by someone who is a trained hunter when you are completely out of your element is terrifying, and Mercy Falls does a great job of putting the audience in the shoes of the protagonists.

When the monsters in your film are human, upping the stakes is a lot more difficult but also a lot more identifiable. It's not hard to see yourself in this situation, assuming you were also willing to make risky choices like the folks in the film. Once you're in the situation, however, there's really no easy way out. You literally just have to out-survive the person who's after you, and you have to defeat someone who is far more capable in those exact same circumstances. Mercy Falls expresses these sentiments capably, and while it's not my favorite from the survivor horror genre, it's not half bad either. I definitely recommend checking it out if you're a fan of the genre.

On a side note: the parallels between the Homer stories that were discussed in the film and the events that occurred between the characters actually would've been interested had it been played on a bit more. The concept of sirens, and the reality of the attraction between men and women and the things that they (often men, let's be real) will do for that attraction that is clearly against their best interest could easily lead to something like this happening. There's nothing that happens in this film that isn't realistic, so comparing a but further with those ancient stories, which one character said were stories that have been repeated throughout history, would've been an interesting choice. They teased it a bit but didn't completely follow through, so it would've been a nice addition to the story had they explored the ancient literature comparisons a little further.

Who this movie is for: Survival horror lovers, Scenic horror fans, Outdoorsmen (and women)

Bottom line: Slow moving but realistic and chilling at times, Mercy Falls is a capably made survival horror/thriller that has some shockingly violent scenes of chaos. The acting is great, the scenery is gorgeous, and if you're a fan of survival horror in general, this one is worth a look. It's streaming on Tubi (and it's a Tubi original!), so check it out and support indie horror. I'm a huge fan of Tubi and the stuff that they have on their platform, and it's a great, free source of entertainment that I cannot recommend enough, if for no other reason than to support their efforts and allow them to continue to bring cool shit to the market.

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