While horror movies have traditionally been a guy domain, piled high with a body count of seductive scream queens and bloody female prey, Melanie Orr’s Devil’s Mercy evens the gender score a bit, while steeped in effectively sinister atmosphere. And just in time for Halloween and the possibly scarier US housing crisis, the movie features a more than diabolical landlord from hell.
Irish actor Stephen Rea is Tyler, the macabre master of disguise landlord who may be haunting his own house, while sporting both a fake hospitable veneer to his new tenants, along with a nifty new, eerily forboding American accent. When Matt Winters (Michael Cram), his wife Beth (Deborah Valente) and young son Calvin (Dylan Everett) move into an apartment in the sprawling, secluded creaky New England mansion, Tyler begins to take an unhealthy, obsessive interest in the boy. Likewise lurking around the premises is Kayla (Hannah Lochner) a hide and seek perpetually frowning, disobedient preteen kin who may be related to Tyler in more ways than one.
Before the new tenants can barely unpack, Matt is turned into a bedridden invalid with mysterious chronic indigestion, Tyler is getting far too chummy with Matt’s glamorous and increasingly freaked out spouse, and Kayla seems to be casting peculiar spells over Calvin in collusion with the crafty landlord, while both breathe a suspicious sigh of relief that the kid has never been baptized. Meanwhile, a possibly devil-made-me-do-it Tyler keeps crossing out the days in October on his calendar, apparently in a countdown to the full moon. Which raises automatic audience suspicions that he might be a warlock, or even part time tenant himself of the underworld, take your pick.
Devil’s Mercy is inevitably the sort of conventional scary movie where the clueless protagonists never think to dial the cops, cancel their lease, or even summon a doctor to tend to the weirdly ailing hubby. But there are enough shocking inventive surprises in store to make you not think about moving out of your current digs, for some time to come.
Peace Arch Home Entertainment
DVD Features: Making Of Featurette; Photo Gallery; Theatrical Trailer.