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The Manor (2018)
DVD Released: 5/15/2015
All Ratings out of
Extras: No Extras
Review by Mike Long, Posted on 5/8/2018
It would be safe to assume that most people have a set of fears and concerns. Some of these may be very rational -- the fear of dying, concern over finances and their family's safety -- and some may be irrational -- the fear of clowns or balloons, concerns that others are watching you. I would like to think that most of my fears are pretty middle-of-the-road and that I'm not overly concerned about anything which is too unusual. But, I now have a new fear. I'm afraid that aliens are going to intercept the movie The Manor and think that the dialogue presented in the film is an accurate representation of how human beings talk. Oh, the horror.
Amy (Christina Robinson) has been released from a psychiatric institution following a lengthy stay. Instead of heading home, Amy's mother, Jane (Tanja Melendez Lynch), has planned a retreat to a bed & breakfast, where they once stayed years ago. Joining this mother & daughter are Jane's sister, Eva (Tandi Tugwell), Eva's husband, Ethan (Eric Lutes), and their children, Trevor (Michael Zuccola) and Blaire (Danielle Guldin). Despite the fact that Mr. Anders (Mark Sullivan) provides a warm welcome, Amy has an odd feeling about the B&B and begins to have visions of a demon. The family's quiet retreat is short lived, as a group of hunters arrive, followed shortly by Reverend Thomas (Kevin Nash) and his followers. As this odd collection of guests cavort around the lodge, someone begins to kill them one-by-one. Could it be the demon which Amy has been seeing?
Over the years, I've watched many, many horror movies, and most of them weren't very good. These movies are often bad for one of a number of different reasons -- bad acting, poor pacing, underwritten script, unlikable characters, etc. With many of these films, there was a feeling that a honest attempt had been made to make a good movie, but the odds were simply against it. Movies like this were often failures, but there may have been at least one thing in the film to like.
Rarely have I seen a movie as thoroughly bad as The Manor. It's almost as if those working behind the camera had a checklist on what to do wrong and made sure that they hit everything. This is one of those movies which has so many problems, I don't know where to start. The story -- which has been credited to four writers -- is practically non-existent. We have the basic story concerning Amy leaving the mental hospital and, from there, we are treated to a lot of random scenes where people talk and some of them get killed. And when situations are introduced, such as the "Cotton Candy Social", they are ludicrous. As noted above, the dialogue is laughably and never, ever sounds like anything that real people have said or would say. The nadir occurs when Amy confides in Reverend Thomas that she is mentally ill, and he replies, "Bummer." These examples make the movie sound like it may be a spoof, but, I assure you that everything is played straight, no matter how ridiculous it gets. The hunter characters are incredibly obnoxious, as if most everyone in the movie. Therefore, when people do die, the audience does not care.
There's also something weird going on with the editing here, as The Manor feels as if it is at least three different movies cut together. We have the initial story involving the people at the manor. Then, there are long flashbacks which involve Armen Garo teaching a young man to play chess...and then breaking into a song about chess. Then, there are the scenes involving the demon. (To the movie's credit, the image of the demon using marionettes is an interesting one. They should have stuck with that.) The movie jumps from scene-to-scene with no real rhythm and the first two acts feel very haphazard. Then, the second half of the film sees montages made up of many quick cuts. Editor Sam Eilertsen must have worked very hard to create those moments, but there needed to be more attention paid having the film feel as if it wasn't walking through quicksand.
Lionsgate has a history of releasing direct-to-video low-budget horror films, and amongst this collection has been the occasional diamond-in-the-rough. The Manor is not one of those films. I would love to report that, if nothing else, this movie falls into the "so bad, it's good" category, but it can't even muster that. Few viewers will make it to the "twist" ending, and when they do, they find a finale which puts the capper on this misguided film. The idea of someone leaving a mental hospital and continuing to have issues is not an original one, but the makers of The Manor (especially those four writers) could have put a new spin on this. And I guess that, in a way, they did, as they opted to make a movie which has no appeal whatsoever.
The Manor does do us the favor of sparing the T&A from these heinous characters on DVD courtesy of Lionsgate. The film has been letterboxed at 1.78:1 and the transfer is enhanced for 16 x 9 TVs. The image is sharp and clear, showing on notable grain and no defects from the source materials. The colors look good and the image is never overly dark or bright. The image is well-balanced, but it's somewhat lacking in detail at times. Also, the picture presents as a bit flat. The DVD carries a Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track which provides clear dialogue and sound effects. The "scary" sequences provide noticeable surround sound and some mild subwoofer. The surround effects aren't very detailed, but the front channel effects are able to produce some nice stereo at times.
The Manor DVD contains no extra features.
Review Copyright 2018 by Mike Long