The Manor (2021)
Directed by: Axelle Carolyn | minutes | horror | Actors: Barbara Hershey, Fran Bennett, Stacey Travis, Devin Kawaoka, Ciera Payton, Jill Larson, Ashley Platz, Katie A. Keane, Mark Steger, Cissy Wellman, Nicholas Alexander, Jaquita Ta’le
After a stroke, it becomes difficult for Judith to take care of herself any longer and she moves to the Golden Sun Manor nursing home. There she quickly makes new friends, but her roommate is not doing so well. She tells that she is visited at night by a dark creature. Are these nightmares or is there something else more sinister going on in this nursing home? When residents suddenly die in a strange way and Judith also sees the terrifying figure, it seems like the latter… but now that she has been diagnosed with dementia, even her family doesn’t believe Judith anymore.
Like the other films in the second series of ‘Welcome to the Blumhouse’, ‘The Manor’ is a film that combines more traditional horror with a social message. The dark corridors of the ultra-quiet nursing home, where at night you can hear a pin drop and your hair no doubt stand on end as strange and ominous sounds or shapes break through the icy silence, is a fine backdrop for a film of this type. Apart from a few nice scenes, director Axelle Carolyn only partially succeeds in creating the ominous atmosphere that befits this film. The fine nuances that turn a reasonable horror film into a really good horror film are missing. In addition, it is a pity that some scenes are just a bit too dark and the sparse special effects are not exactly what you want.
The acting is quite decent. Barbara Hershey convinces as Judith, a woman who has lost a lot physically after her stroke, but is actually still too clear-headed for the nursing home she ends up in. We see a complex and layered character, with all the fears, desires and memories that belong to a human being of flesh and blood. The supporting cast also does its job properly.
While all sorts of shady dealings are happening in Golden Sun Manor, the true horror lies in losing the freedom and integrity over one’s own body that Judith experiences. She is subject to all kinds of rules and restrictions (no mobile phones, a prohibition to walk through the complex on her own) that she has unknowingly agreed to. The head of the nursing home is a milder version of the dictatorial sister Ratched from ‘One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest’. Especially after Judith is (wrongly) diagnosed with dementia, the place that should actually provide care and love slowly becomes a real prison.
But perhaps the worst nightmare is the total loss of your mental faculties and personality from the softening of the brain, a fate that befell some of Judith’s inmates. ‘The Manor’ shows the effects of this process, whereby once vivid memories, cherished persons and pleasurable activities fade into chimeras, hazy relics of a once dignified existence. Yet the film never becomes a profound drama about weighty themes such as mortality or senility. The themes are explored superficially, but not really deepened.
What’s left is a decent, not too terrifying horror film, laced with drama elements and just interesting enough to keep you interested for most of the running time.