Welcome to Mercy ★½

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An occult chiller set primarily in an eerie Latvian convent, Tommy Bertelsen’s 'Welcome to Mercy' is a lazy, muddled horror feature, but at least it’s wily about concealing that fact. Relying on an admittedly evocative setting and familiar demon-possession tropes, it almost succeeds in obfuscating the clumsiness of its storytelling. Spurred by her father’s ailing health, Americanized single mom Madeline (Kristen Ruhlin) returns to the Old World with her young daughter. However, this homecoming unleashes a hibernating unholy power in Madeline, and she reluctantly agrees to a spiritual convalescence at the nearby convent. Cue the confounding flashbacks, Satanic parlor tricks, and nunsploitation eroticism, none of it amounting to much. Bertelsen seems overly impressed with screenwriter Kristen Ruhlin’s plot – which is somehow both trite and confusing – and giddily drapes it with a foreboding that it never earns, even in hindsight. The performances, cinematography, and production design are all solid, but by the time the underwhelming “twist” ending arrives, it’s apparent how gravely the film’s craft has been wasted.