‘The Manor’: A Hallmark Halloween movie

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As Halloween is rapidly approaching, Amazon Prime released a new horror film titled “The Manor” this past Friday. Directed by Axelle Carolyn and starring Barbara Hershey, the movie uncovers the haunted truths of the nursing home called “The Manor.” 

Based in the present day, the movie starts off with a dreamy shot of young ballerinas on a lawn. The young kids are taught by an older lady as she shows them arm movements. The outdoor dance lesson is accompanied by a distant sound of children’s laughter and dramatic piano in the background. At the opening scene, the movie felt eerie, with that uncomfortable feeling you get from a horror film. My premature judgement could not have been more wrong. 

A cake topped with candles numbering seven and zero is brought out to the gray-haired ballet teacher. The children and adults gather to sing “Happy Birthday” to the woman as she is surrounded by loved ones. The dramatic organ music continues as the woman picks up a young ballet student and spins her around while a middle-aged woman at the table says, “Mom, take it easy.” 

The woman becomes dizzy and after a few moments collapses to the ground. The first scene is over and the camera cuts to the opening credits with drawn images of crows, full moons and dancing women. The strange feeling continues.  

In the following scene, the protagonist Judith Albright (Hershey) moves into The Manor after suffering a stroke where she quickly learns about the “no cellphone policy”. That was a big red flag if I have ever seen one. 

 She is accompanied by her emotionless daughter and upset grandson as she unpacks her items into a room that reeks of old money New England with outdated wallpaper and drafty windows. 

Judith accepts her new reality of being a resident at a nursing home and becomes aware of her declining health. She acknowledges her age but jokes to her new roommate that it feels like college again. Her roommate is unresponsive and is shown shaking in a wheelchair staring out the window. Despite the odd feeling that fills her new home, Judith settles in and goes to sleep.  

What starts off as a potential for a good horror film is ruined by cheesy scenes and lines that sound like they are delivered from a teleprompter.  

Judith meets the “Mean Girls” version of the Plastics at the nursing home. She sits with them during meals, and they reassure her that they are the only sane ones in the residency. They joke about becoming old yet being treated like children. Judith confides in them that she wakes up screaming because she sees a shadowy figure standing by her bed, but conveniently no one believes her. Again, another red flag. 

One of the following nights, her roommate, still with no name, comes into the room screaming as staff members hold onto her arms. She has a manic episode and is strapped down by the nurses. As she begins to calm down, a black cat enters the room, and she begins to scream again. The use of the black cat adds to the predictability of a low-budget horror movie.  

Judith suspects that something is wrong when residents are dying, her things are misplaced, and she sees dark figures at night. When none of the other residents or nurses believe her, she turns to her teenage skater grandson. The most unrealistic part of this movie is how a skater kid would drop anything to visit his grandmother, but that is just one viewer’s opinion.  

The following scenes continue to confirm her theory of supernatural activity in the nursing home. The last twenty minutes of the movie spiraled out of control with several strange scenes. Judith is confronted by old men who climb walls, witchcraft, and blood rituals. She and her overly attached grandson even agree to enter the dark side.  

If you are someone who enjoys the minimal attention needed for Hallmark’s Christmas movies and likes supernatural activity, “The Manor” might be right for you. The 80-minute film consists of predictable scenes, low-quality acting and a poor execution of a great concept for a horror movie. I am afraid this movie might not make an appearance in this year’s award season, but it is a good movie for the ongoing spooky season. 

“The Manor” is available for streaming on Amazon Prime. 

Rating: 2/5 

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