Mercy (2000)

Rating: D-

Dir: Damian Harris
Star: Ellen Barkin, Peta Wilson, Julian Sands, Wendy Crewson

It’s Silence of the Lambs! No, it’s Basic Instinct! No, it’s Blue Velvet! Actually, it’s bits of them all, yet nowhere near as good as any of them. Instinct is the closest match: it shares the same homicide cop/shrink/serial killer suspect triangle, and the cop gets involved with the suspect, who’s a lesbian. The main twist is that the cop is a woman (Barkin), and this is not nearly enough to make it interesting, since it lacks any real…well, balls. This wants to be an erotic thriller, but is neither erotic nor thrilling, nor really of any interest unless you’re a big Peta La Femme Nikita Wilson fan, who plays the suspect with a fondness for getting pseudo-sniped in the nude, by disturbed ‘Nam veterans.

Believe me, I’m making it all sound much more entertaining than it actually is. The film probably counts as politically incorrect on a number of counts, not least that in the novel on which it was based, the cop was Hispanic. Seems Hollywood can cope with gay serial-killers, but not that… It also assumes that lesbians are all bondage freaks who were abused as children, but lacks the gleeful self-awareness that made Instinct such a pleasure. Verhoeven knew, he just didn’t care; Harris may or may not give a damn, but it’s unlikely many viewers will.