Review: Mercy (2016)

Mercy (dir. Chris Sparling, 2016) – Four estranged brothers return home to visit their dying mother, but are thrust into a fight for survival of their own.

Verdict

Bungled execution takes the spark out of an ambitious film, where potential sadly peters out.

2/5

Review

Netflix original Mercy is a risk-taker. Lavish with twist and turns, the film leaves conventions at the door and provides little clue as to where the plot is heading. Such unpredictability can often make a mystery gripping. Frustratingly, unwieldy execution leaves us with nothing but a thoroughly perplexing enigma.

Things start off slow in the familial affair, where four brothers convene in their old home. Their mother Grace is dying. A visitor shows up with a mysterious bag, urging the family to end her suffering. Speculations lead to an ensuing moral dilemma of euthanasia. But that theory comes to naught as masked men intrude and threaten a restless night ahead.

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Review: Small Crimes (2017)

Small Crimes (dir. E.L. Katz, 2017) – Having served his sentence for attempted murder, disgraced former cop Joe Denton seeks redemption but finds himself trapped in the mess he left behind.

Verdict

A healthy amount of cynicism will ensure an easier wade through this weary dark comedy.

3/5"

Review

Small Crimes centres on disgraced cop Joe Denton (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau), who is having a hard time making amends to his estranged family, and a former colleague scarred in the line of duty. But if you think this is a redemption story, you’ve got another think coming.

After all, his chink in the armour runs deep. The corruption-prone ex-con takes no time to dismantle his second chance. Blackmailed by Lt. Pleasant (Gary Cole), he is forced into protecting dirty cops by killing a cancer-stricken mob boss Manny Vassey (Shawn Lawrence). Caving to the pressure of his past, he invites fatal danger back on his trail.

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Duality

Letting my last cigarette fall to the floor, I slip into Helena’s favourite night club by the back door. The sudden rush of electronic noise and flashing lights made me wince. Ignoring the growing throb in my head, I sit by the bar and scan through the mess of dark shadows lost in reverie. Lee isn’t there. I take another swig of my dark beer.

The night goes on. My search is in vain. As I slam down my fourth pint glass in frustration, I almost gasp when I see Helena in its reflection. But I recognise my inebriated self in seconds. A version of me. Thick eyeliner and cherry red lipstick have turned my face into a mask of my sister. Every strand of my brown frazzled hair stays hidden under a blonde wig that smells like smoke.

The guise works perfect. Still, I feel ill at ease. I felt the same way when Helena had dragged me out here on our last birthday. Sisters we might have been, we shared little in common. Decadence that I run from, was what Helena chased. One never knew what the other was thinking, though we had always been told that twins ought to. We led two different lives, which held two different fates.

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Review: Rooster’s Blood / La Sangre del Gallo (2015)

Rooster’s Blood / La Sangre del Gallo (dir. Mariano Dawidson, 2015) – Beaten and bloodied, Damian is unable to remember how he got there, or why. 

Verdict

This moody kidnap thriller is as much an engaging mystery as it is, visual panache.

4/5

Review

If you have a thing for gritty thrillers from the independent scene, La Sangre del Gallo will be right up your seedy alley. A promising directorial debut by Mariano Dawidson, the Argentinian film foregrounds the dark brutality of criminal underworld, uncompromising in its show of violence from the get-go.

The opening introduces Damian (Santiago Pedrero) in a bad place, captive and bloodied during an iron-fisted interrogation. Questions and punches rain without relent. Still, his past remains a blur. As he struggles to recall painful memories, the age-old narrative device of flashbacks serves well to unravel the mystery at hand.

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Favourite Rock and Metal Albums of 2016 Vol. 2

We are now five months into 2017, where I have had the chance to listen to more albums released last year. And so I have come to realise that my list of favourite 2016 rock/metal albums was woefully incomplete. 

Thankfully, there is no hard and fast rule that forbids a very belated follow-up post. Not for me, anyway. If there is anything I’ve learnt from Marvel’s raging success, it is that a Volume 2 fixes everything. What better way to kick it off than some new noise? 

Starting with:

10. Dorothy – ROCKISDEAD

The title ROCKISDEAD is a pure fib. Not that we mind at all. From the stompin’ proclamation of Raise Hell, to the southern echoes in Gun in My Hand, Dorothy‘s debut album impresses like few others can, leaving us ravenous for more.

Goodbye naysayers. Long live rock n’ roll, thanks to this hell-raising headbanger and self-confessed snack devourer. Newcomer Dorothy Martin has reignited the rock n’ roll scene in a big way, with her fervent powerhouse vocals tailor-made for modern blues.

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War is Hell

With fear is no way to live for a child. But in Spero’s world, survival is the only way he has ever known. This is what war does. It moulds tired soldiers out of the innocent, heedless of age. Every corner he turns, his ears prickle at the scamper of rats by the drains. Not a second passes without his eyes darting towards shadows of patrolling soldiers.

It is his third night on the road. Not once has he rested, fearing that he may not make it to the city centre in time. His mother had told – no, begged – him to stay home. It will destroy her to lose another child, she had cried, and cried. Her whimpers were pitiful. But so were the groaning of his sick father. Spero knew that if he did not get medicine soon, Father would never make it through the week.

Spero understands the risks of being out here, perhaps more than Mother. But the 13-year-old boy also knows that he has no choice. Father will never survive the trip to the hospital. Besides, if anyone knows about the man laying immobile while the world is at war? Never mind his chronic illness. Father will be a traitor in their books.

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