Mercy Falls (2023) Movie Review – Horror on Tubi

Horror, Thriller | 103 Min
Mercy Falls (2023) Horror Movie Review
  • Director: Ryan Hendrick
  • Actors: Lauren Lyle, Nicolette McKeown, James Watterson, Layla Kirk
  • Writers: Meliá Grasska, Ryan Hendrick
  • Producers: David Newman
  • Country: United Kingdom
  • Language: English
  • Parental: Violence, Language, Nudity, Injury Detail, Violence To Animals
  • Horror, Thriller | 103 Min

Set in the gorgeous Scottish highlands. Mercy Falls follows a group of friends hiking through the woods. Searching for a cabin passed down to one of them by her late father. On the way they meet a mysterious woman with a hidden past. Agreeing to allow the woman to come along as their hiking guide. It isn't long before a terrible accident occurs which stretches the dynamics of the group beyond breaking point.

Welcome to Knockout Horror. Today we will be reviewing Tubi Original Scottish horror, Thriller, Mercy Falls. A slow burning story that suddenly transforms into something of a revenge horror. This movie is part of our Low Budget Horror on Tubi feature. If you arrived here looking for an Ending Explained article for Mercy Falls then you are in the right place. Click right here to check out our Mercy Falls Ending Explained article. Keep in mind, though, unlike this review the Ending Explained article does contain spoilers.

For the past month, we have been covering nothing but low budget horror movies on Tubi. With everyone kicking greedy streaming services to the curb, as of late. We decided it would be good to look at something that may save you some money. Something that you could enjoy with out forking out a ton of cash. Something altogether cheaper; something altogether more free.

But It’s Not Been Going Too Well

Things started out rather positively with movies like ReSet, Lexi and The Andy Baker Tape actually being pretty good. But things took a drastic turn for the worse somewhere near the mid way point. Since then we have been repeatedly assaulted with awful crap like Dead Hot: Season of the Witch, Caviar, Forest of Death and I’m Haunted. Being completely truthful; it’s been very rough going.

Mercy Falls (2023) Horror Movie Review

In a desperate attempt to get things back on track. I broke my own rules. I started picking movies with higher budgets. It was just too difficult to avoid the trash. I picked films with well known actors, special effects budgets and stuff that simply looked a little better. The result? Well, it’s not been what I was hoping to be brutally honest. Captive was okay I suppose and Shark Bait was about as middle of the road as shark movies come. Will today’s movie do any better?

And The Answer Is a Resounding Not Really

Set in the gorgeous Scottish highlands. Mercy Falls follows a group of friends hiking through the woods. Searching for a cabin passed down to one of them by their late father. On the way they meet a mysterious woman with a hidden past. Agreeing to allow the woman to come along as their hiking guide. It isn’t long before a terrible accident occurs which stretches the dynamics of the group beyond breaking point.

Mercy Falls (2023) Horror Movie Review

We love a good, tense, thriller here in the UK. Be it TV shows or movies; they are fairly common. Take the fantastic Calibre for example. And Calibre is the movie that first comes to mind when watching Mercy Falls. Not just because both movies feature characters with strong Scottish accents. And not at all because both movies are set in the highlands of Scotland. But because of their very similar themes of paranoia, deception and interpersonal tension. The only difference? Calibre is an absolutely fantastic movie. Mercy Falls is about as average as they come.

Initially Offers Some Promise

Mercy Falls spends nearly the entire first half of the movie desperately trying to break out of mediocrity. Some fairly sketchy acting occasionally shows moments of promise. The plot seems, initially, fairly intriguing. The presence of a character with a somewhat shady background offers hope of something to grab onto. And the fantastic drone shots of rolling hills and jagged mountains hints at something a little more well considered than the average low budget thriller.

Mercy Falls (2023) Horror Movie Review

But things really begin to fall apart as soon as the group hikes into the dense woods. The stupidity of the characters makes it very apparent that this is a movie tremendously lacking in creativity. One ridiculous decision after another starts to lend the movie a hint of the slapstick. A theme that will continue throughout Mercy Falls’ length. Robbing the film of any sense of tension or any form of unpredictability. This is a film keen to borrow from others and devoid of new ideas. 

A Terrible Backstory

Our main character here, Rhona, played by Lauren Lyle. Is the sole reason the group are even hiking into the woods in the first place. Her father has recently passed away. Apparently destitute and alone; the only thing he has left her is a solitary cabin located deep in the woods. A cabin that is probably worth a couple hundred thousand nowadays. The only problem is, Rhona can’t exactly remember where this cabin is.

She has been estranged from her father ever since she was a child. An incident where he put an ailing horse out of its misery highly disturbed Rhona. Leading to her never speaking to him again. Yes! Really, that is the back story. One of the worst I think I have ever heard in a movie and a terrible premise to build a movie on.

Mercy Falls (2023) Horror Movie Review

What makes it even worse. Is that the story is utterly confused. Rhona refers to her dad, earlier in the movie, as someone who abandoned her. Before, later on, seemingly completely forgetting that and regaling the group with the tale about the horse. Declaring herself as the one who abandoned him. Rhona is a difficult character to like, as it is. Histrionic, judgmental, and with the presence of a wet noodle. She becomes infinitely more difficult to like after this revelation. 

A Completely Unlikable Cast

Rhona is just the poster girl for a cast of unlikable people, though. Heather is an annoyingly self important and immature dunce who drags the entire group down with her neediness. Donnie is a thirsty loser with no personality and a hero complex. Andy is a complete prick hole that, apparently, nobody likes but was invited along anyway. And Scott is a wet blanket who, one minute, quotes Odyssey, and the next is swinging punches randomly because his girlfriend is a bit flirty. It is an utterly abhorrent group and incredibly easy to dislike. 

Mercy Falls (2023) Horror Movie Review

Luckily we have “Woman with a dark past” Carla to offer a glimmer of hope. Being the only person in the cast that actually has some type of personality. And the only one of the cast to actually give the viewer something to invest in. Outside of “spoiled brat is approaching 30 but still acts like a child”. It’s a shame that the entire movie doesn’t focus purely around her. This is a big problem with movies in general, lately. So many of the casts are completely unlikable. I want characters to root for. I don’t want to be eagerly awaiting them being gutted and filleted by the movie’s killer.

Dumb and Dumber

It doesn’t help that these are some of the dumbest characters I have seen in a movie for awhile. It’s always fun to watch old horror movies and laugh at the stupidity of the characters. You know they are going to walk right into the killer. It’s obvious that they will trip while running away. You know that they will leave the only weapon they have in a stupid place. Only for it to be picked up by said killer and introduced, intimately, into the character’s body holes. It’s obvious and it is part of the charm of old horror. 

But here we are in 2023 still watching movies that have these traits. The characters here are so utterly stupid. They repeatedly do the exact wrong thing over and over again. It is so completely ridiculous. “Shall we split up? Yeah let’s do that, I’ll head down “gutted like a fish” valley while you take “hung from your own genitals” woods. Great plan! If we make it out alive let’s meet up in “Anally impaled on a meat hook” farm.”. Is it really that difficult to set up kills in a movie?

Mercy Falls (2023) Horror Movie Review

Do we really have to dumb ourselves down to enjoy films like this? I am sorry, but I find it hard to believe that a character would rather go for an extended walk alone in the spooky woods. While being stalked by a maniacal killer. Rather than taking a piss in front of her female best friend and her boyfriend. Things like this happen repeatedly, as well. It’s classic “white people in horror movies” fodder. And, given the theme, feels enormously out of place.

Lacking in Tension

The above, also, robs the movie of any real sense of tension. The kills are completely predictable thanks to characters going out of their ways to set them up. There is just no creativity at all. It provoked repeated laughs from my fiancee and me. Becoming a genuine source of humour. Mercy Falls is one of the worst recent offenders for this old trope. Managing to make the characters in Forest of Death seem positively intelligent and cautious.

It doesn’t help that the setup for the tension is completely farcical. It involves a number of serious leaps of logic. A group of characters reacting to a situation in a completely unbelievable way. And a massive piece of paper surviving being thrown on a fire. It’s all just a bit silly. Of course, if the movie was decent, you could brush this off. But the movie is incredibly middling so it’s almost impossible to. 

A Few Moments of Hope

There are a few things that elevate Mercy Falls slightly above similar movies. The premise of a strong woman fighting back is always welcome. Though it was done in a much better way in Hunted. A movie which Mercy Falls definitely owes a few thanks to as it lampoons its plot heavily in parts.

These types of movies play out in a similar way to some of the middle age male fantasy movies like John Wick and The Equalizer. Only instead of aging men, that have some form of background in military special forces, killing dozens of younger dudes. These films tend to feature doughy middle aged women who have never even hit the gym. Let alone been trained in combat. Viciously fighting back against a much better armed and much better trained group of killers. If that is your type of thing then, as the kids say, Slay!

Carla is a really interesting character. She feels vicious and capable. A great addition to the story and offered tons of promise. Unfortunately, she just couldn’t elevate this film beyond being, ultimately, mediocre. Some of the drone shots are fantastic and the movie looks very nice, in general. Action scenes are rather lacklustre. With the final scene being particularly awful and slow moving. But the special effects look okay and there are a few decent kills.

Generally Poorly Acted

For much of the movie, I couldn’t decide what I thought of Lauren Lyle’s performance as Rhona. She starts off fairly strongly before seeming to run out of energy as the movie roles on. Her more effective dramatic moments during the early parts of the story. Stand in stark contrast to her lackadaisical delivery later on. She seems to lose the ability to emote somewhere during the middle. Leaving her to react with an utterly plain face to truly harrowing moments. She really lacks enthusiasm and struggles to display any form of emotional reaction to what is going on around her. Robbing certain scenes of gravity.

She only seemed enthusiastic during romance scenes. Jumping into them with a “this is my time to shine” type of enthusiasm for some noisy kissing that proves to be a misophonia sufferer’s worst nightmare. She is severely lacking in later action scenes, as well. Seeming stiff, out of shape and incapable of throwing herself into the moment. I thought the stiffness was due to her being in her late 30s. But it turns out she was actually in her late 20s when this was made. I can only assume she wasn’t prepared for the physical demands of the shoot. It makes the ending of the film seem even more unbelievable than it is. I am sure she would do just fine in a different kind of movie. But action based thrillers don’t seem to be for her.

Mercy Falls (2023) Horror Movie Review

Side characters are all equally lacking. With barely anyone deserving any specific mention. Layla Kirk’s character, Heather, will probably annoy people. But I thought Kirk did a good job and had a very natural delivery. Managing to seem like she was actually hanging out with a group of friends. It looked like she had a lot of fun. Everyone else is dishwater dull. Playing their characters as generically as they can. Bringing nothing of note to the film.

A Standout Performance

On the complete opposite end of the spectrum was Nicolette McKeown. Who was absolutely fantastic throughout. She emotes well, seemed to be having an absolute blast. Was extremely capable in the physical parts and adds a ton to the movie purely through facial expressions. I loved her performance and would love to see her in more horror in the future. Her accent never got in the way of the movie, either. Something that deserves mention because this is something people always struggle with.

I’m Welsh so used to hearing thick accents. I don’t actually have a Welsh accent myself. Mine is far closer to English. But my dad and relatives on his side all had Welsh accents. I, also, live in a town where nearly half of the people speak Welsh as a first language. Meaning I am pretty used to deciphering thick Celtic accents. The accents in Mercy Falls are going to give people trouble. Even I struggled a bit, at times. People complained about it with Calibre, people complained about it with Death of a Vlogger, and people will complain about it here. 

The sound production is rather bad in parts. There is a fair amount of hissing on vocal tracks and the accents are very thick. In can be difficult to understand people at times. Some of the sentences are slurred out and just get lost to the ether. Obviously I am not saying that the actors should have changed their accents. I am just pointing this out for anyone who struggles with thick Scots accents. Particularly Americans because I know a lot of Northern English, Scottish, Welsh and Irish accents are subtitled over there. You may want to put the subtitles on here.

Final Thoughts and Score

Mercy Falls is simply a very average thriller. A stupid plot, terrible backstory, incredibly dumb characters, an unlikable cast and a protagonist that is difficult to believe in. Are far too much for the fantastic performance of Nicolette McKeown, the decent cinematography, and fairly interesting premise to overcome. It’s always cool to see strong women in horror movies but Rhona is not an easy character to buy into. She is unlikable and incredibly dull. The movie also deserves a fair amount of criticism for its portrayal of war veterans suffering from PTSD. This is a trope that needs to die a death. Not cool at all!

If you are looking for something fairly similar to the brilliant Calibre and the above average Hunted. Then this might fit the bill. Thriller fans who are easily pleased will likely be able to ignore the stupidity of the characters and the dumb setups for kills. Everyone else will probably find themselves a bit annoyed by it and a little bit bored. Mercy Falls is a very average revenge romp that overstays its welcome.

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