Not since my free Cinemax subscription expired have I seen such an amazing foray into the realm of the Erotic Thriller. Expecting Mercy actually does the usual "Skinemax" fare one better by at least having half-a-brain and a heart that is, at least sometimes, in the right place. It's actually got everything a great B-Movie should, including an attractive, young couple on the run, a creepy villain, hidden cameras, a blackmail gone bad, muscle cars and enough twists and turns to keep it interesting without getting bogged down along the way. The acting is amateur at best, which isn't surprising since Expecting Mercy is the only credit on most of the cast's resumes, but there is a spark of talent in both the heroine, Heather Prete, and the villain, Brian Muni, to have warranted their continued work in the acting profession.
Expecting Mercy's DVD art is truly a case of not being able to judge a book by its cover, showing the lovely Miss Prete being menaced by a mysterious, Ax-wielding psycho does a disservice to the actual movie. In fact, I can't even remember a scene with an ax in it, at least not like the one pictured on the cover. The "Slasher" style cover will undoubtedly attract an audience that just might not be patient enough for Expecting Mercy to deliver the goods. Drawing from several sources, we're introduced almost simultaneously to our two couples. Kurt (James Wagner) and Madalyne (Prete) are running from something bad when his GTO comes down wit Engine trouble. Luckily, they are able to make it to Edward (Muni) and Jackie's (Carrie Hitchcock) B&B to stop for the night. Posing as a couple of newlyweds, the young couple checks in to the quaint home with nothing more than the clothes on their back and a mysterious briefcase.
Unfortunately for them, Edward has the place wired like a low-rent Sliver. When the couple decides to make the most of their "Honeymoon Suite", Edward captures the moment on video for posterity… Prete's dual Nipple Rings and All!!! It seems that that's not all Edwards been up to. He's a self-confessed videophile and voyeur, who in addition to owning the B&B, also runs a mail order media and GUNS operation. This means that when he's not spying on his guests or watching porn, he's polishing up his gun collection. It's revealed to us through his neglected wife Jackie (who may or may not be a killer herself) that Edward is going through the Grand Daddy of All Midlife Crises. He drives a classic corvette, got himself a vasectomy and is doggedly determined to use both to their maximum potential.
The introduction of the troubled teens is like blood in the water for the lecherous Edward, who tries to manipulate both of tem into one of his sick fantasies. Once Edward gets wind of just what kind of trouble their in, he decides that he wants in on the action. Like all great villains, Edward is conflicted in that he has spun a web around himself that involves Madalyne and Kurt, as well as Jackie, who hates him, but also needs him for the security e provides her. Needless to say, as the film speeds along to its climax, things look pretty clear cut, and then get thrown for a loop which actually turns out to be a happy ending for a change. As Jackie comes to her senses, realizing that Madalyne may or may not be the daughter she gave up for adoption 19 years before, she helps them to get away with murder. Let's just say that in the end, they pay her back in full.
Picture: The movie is presented in a Widescreen Aspect Ratio. Amazingly, for the low budget of the film, it looks really good. I can't tell if it was shot on Digital Video or on 16mm, but the cinematography is nice enough to fool you into thinking you're watching a more expensive film.
Audio: The Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo track sounds fine. It's a dialogue heavy mix, with a generic suspense soundtrack.
Extras: The only extras included on this DVD are the trailer, as well as a couple of other trailers for MTI films.
Conclusion: Expecting Mercy was definitely a pleasant surprise. Maybe I ended up enjoying it so much because I was expecting something so utterly different? All the actors give it feel of Summer Stock theater, but the point is that they do try. As I said before, Prete is easy on the eyes (did I mention the Nipple Rings!?!?), and Muni is just fun to watch as he veers ever closer to overacting, but then falls back before crossing over into the realm of hamminess. Sure, it's still firmly entrenched in B-Movie territory, but it certainly offers enough entertainment value to be a rock solid rental, or even dare I say it, Recommended.