Any exorcism film that comes out automatically has to measure up to The Exorcist. And some have even held their own like The Exorcism of Emily Rose and The Last Exorcism. This week’s Welcome to Mercy has another new take on exorcism. Producer Cary Granat explained.
“What I loved about this script and this film is its uniqueness in taking you into the mind and into the world of where the person who is being possessed goes,” Granat said. “What happens when a possession occurs? Where do you go? I love the concept of when you get possessed, it’s not you anymore. Okay, well, where are you? Where are you at that moment? I think what this film does is it so uniquely questions the place that one is brought to. Is it a real place? is it a place you are just in your mind? We want the audience to answer that question but it is really cool to be taken to that place where this incredible gauntlet/series of challenges occur for you that you need to work through yourself to get out of the possession.”
In Welcome to Mercy, Madaline (Kristen Ruhlin) visits her ailing father in Latvia. After a tumultuous reunion, Madaline experiences the stigmata. This leads us to follow Madaline on her journey, rather than the priests who are normally the heroes of exorcisms.
“I think we’ve not really understood the world of possession because I think the world of possession to this point has been if a religious figure prays over you enough or a certain series of things happen external to you enough, you will come back,” Granat said. “You’ll have defeated the devil that’s inside you. This is the first film that really takes the position it’s entirely up to you. It’s entirely within your controls how you get out of the possession. There is a series of things that are happening with you that you have to accomplish so you have to overcome. I like that because ultimately, as with anything in life, any decision we make, anything we deal with is our responsibility to manage. We need to be able to overcome these things. That’s where the heart lies.”
Ruhlin wrote the screenplay intending to play the role of Madaline. Granat’s exec Joel Michaely submitted the script to him. Granat found director Tommy Bertelsen and planned to shoot the film with their Latvian partners Forma Pro, who they’d trained to make films for Russia and Latvia.
“Tommy was the first one who came in and took the mythology of Latvia and the backdrop of where we were going to shoot the film, the first one who came in and said, ‘Oh, I love these locations. I love this and this. I’d really like to own and go deeper on how do we merge so we’re not just a typical film shooting in a foreign country? We’re a film that’s going into a country and really going into that world. Let’s shoot it, let’s own the language, let’s own their customs.’ I loved that.”
Welcome to Mercy opens Friday, November 2.