The Manor

Vampire Owl: Are we talking about the Dracula Manor?

Vampire Bat: There is no such a manor. We only have the castle.

Vampire Owl: Well, this could be a manor which looks like a castle.

Vampire Bat: Well, Uncle Dracula certainly has some specific ideas about what a great vampire abode should be.

Vampire Owl: His ideas are as outdated as the castle dungeon coating.

Vampire Bat: We are not supposed to talk like that about the vampire elders.

Vampire Owl: Uncle Dracula is still a few centuries away from being a true elder.

Vampire Bat: The elder status is not always gained by age.

Vampire Owl: Yet, all our vampire elders are older than history.

Vampire Bat: Well, you will see how Uncle Dracula is an exception.

[Gets a pineapple cake and three cups of ginger tea].

What is the movie about? :: Judith Albright (Barbara Hershey) had considered herself to be of perfect health, and enjoyed her life with family including little kids, until she suddenly faces a stroke. She decides to move into a famous nursing home, even though her family feels that it is totally unnecessary. Her grandchildren considers her to be young and healthy as anyone of a lower age, but she is adamant. In comparison to her, the other residents of the nursing home are not really that healthy, both physically and mentally. For the peace and quiet of the place, the authorities actually keep a no mobile phone policy, much to her dismay, as she hoped to text her relatives and find some interesting photos and news from the social media. Judith had chosen to stay at this place, as she didn’t want to be a problem for her family, especially if she gets bed-ridden at some point, and has the feeling that things might not be the same again after the stroke.

So, what happens with the events here as we just keep looking? :: Soon, she feels that there is something really strange about the manor and the people around there, even though she does make some good friends out there. The nights no longer allow her to sleep, as something is seen or heard all around. The surroundings around this particular nursing home is also pretty much spooky, as we look on. Her room-mate makes some strange noises, and doesn’t seem to be of good mental health. She also feels that there is a supernatural presence there, with nurses also acting strange, and wants to escape. But the problem is that it was her own decision to choose the nursing home – now she needs to act against it. For the same, she would have a lot of convincing to do though, as everything looks perfect from outside. There is a mystery to be revealed here, about what is it that haunts this particular world, but can it be known?

The defence of The Manor :: There are some fine moments of terror which comes out of nowhere, even though there are not many, and nothing much that we would remember for that long. The setting is really good, and they do use the environment to the best advantage, from the building to the surroundings. There is always something about the world around, whether having an enchanted feeling, or about being ready to unleash the terror at any moment. We also have fine concept behind this film, even though not at its full strength when executed. As expected, there is indeed the twist that awaits us, and there is a certain amount of deviation regarding that too. With Barbara Hershey in the lead, this was going to create a certain amount of impact, and one could be confident that the same was going to increase the positive effect.

The claws of flaw :: The Manor could have done a lot more, and we know that from the premise itself. The film is also very slow, and slower than any horror film would have wanted to move forward. When a horror film cannot go at a good enough pace, it affects the whole thing rather too much. Such a film is also expected to use what is required to keep itself in the genre. The idea here should have been executed better, and there could have been many paths to follow. The scares that it uses could have been manufactured in a better way. It also doesn’t try to build on a possible message which was standing so close out there. The structure could have been better as we look at it. As part of a bigger series, Welcome to the Blumhouse, this one had the chance to stand out, but really doesn’t try to do that. Well, it is our right to expect more here.

Performers of the soul :: Barbara Hershey plays the main role here, and she is also the old lady in distress around. She is the name that has been familiar the most for the supernatural horror film, The Entity more than anything else. It is also one film of those times which has had its presence well known. After so many years, she is part of another horror flick, and she blends in here really well once again. Bruce Davison is the next notable face here, as he has a bigger role to play here than what it seems in the early stages. Then there are actresses like Ciera Payton, Stacey Travis and Jill Larson who also contribute to the film naturally. Nicholas Alexander plays another significant role here, which becomes even more important in the later stages of the movie. Katie Amanda Keane and Shelley Robertson also drops in, along with Fran Bennett. As this is a nursing home, there are enough in-mates here to add to the characters, even though not all of them are used to the best advantage.

How it finishes :: The Manor is the latest addition to the thrillers added to Amazon Prime Video, and last month we did have The Voyeurs doing the job. It doesn’t use enough of horror to its advantage, unlike what was expected, and if it had done that too, The Manor could have had its own good fan base with its premise. In the world of films like The Conjuring, Insidious, Annabelle, Lights Out and Don’t Breathe among others, this is no grand horror fest, but a small one to be part of the group. The focus here is more on the mystery, and as we go through the environment, we are going to be part of this journey, at a lower pace. In a world slowed down by COVID-19 pandemic, there is always scope for some slow horror too. During these days when you cannot trust the people or the virus enough, all you need is some supernatural horror.

Release date: 8th October 2021 (Amazon Prime Video)
Running time: 81 minutes
Directed by: Axelle Carolyn
Starring: Barbara Hershey, Stacey Travis, Bruce Davison, Ciera Payton, Jill Larson, Mark Steger

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Insidious II

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It was in 2011 that we were treated with one of the “different” horror movies in the name of Insidious which was partially copied to Hindi by Bollywood’s last sequel to Raaz. Now we have its sequel, in the same year as two horror big-shots release, including The Conjuring and Carrie. Never before did more than one horror movie release here in the same year, and I almost thought that this was never going to release, just like The Chainsaw 3D, Evil Dead and The Haunting in Connecticut: Ghosts of Georgia. But here we are, with this sequel, even as the original never released on the big screen here and we had to strive to get to it. It didn’t release on that original date of a Friday the 13th though, as it just released here on a Friday 15th, about two months later. Its trailer had reached here long ago, and was well received by the audience who had a great experience with The Conjuring which itself had delayed – all three horror movies releasing late here – something with the censor board or looking forward to their performances in other parts of the world before the risk is taken here? May be they underestimate the audience quite a lot. They can end their devotion to the series if there was any, and look for cheap gore.

After a small flashback into the childhood of our major father character during the time of his encounter with the Lady in Black, the Bride, the movie takes over the story from where it had left off, with Elise (Lin Shaye) dead, and the demon from the other world taking over the body of Josh Lambert (Patrick Wilson). There is a lot of mystery over the death too. With Josh doubted by Renai Lambert (Rose Byrne) and his children, Lorraine Lambert (Barbara Hershey) goes to visit Elise’s friends and partners in finding the supernatural after feeling strange occurences in the house and even seeing a woman in white. The same mysterious woman knocks out Renai after abducting their little kid for a few moments. The piano playing by itself is just one of the strange things occuring in the house. Lorraine meets up with Carl (Steve Coulter), one of the old friends of Elise, who is another paranormal investigator using his dices to contact the spirits from the other world. Through the dices, after contacting Elise, they find out that they will know something from Our Lady of Angels hospital where Lorraine used to work as a nurse during her young days.

There Lorraine remembers the story of Parker Crane (Tom Fitzpatrick), a patient who committed suicide by jumping from the top of the hospital, as he appeared to her after his death. They are guided to his home, and they soon find out that the spirit which is leading them might not be of Elise at all, and it is not a good one nor is it friendly. They come across the story of a serial killer and his mother who used to terrorize him throughout her life as well as after it. It becomes clear to them that Josh is possessed and not himself, even as the detective couldn’t find him guilty of the murder of Elise. Renai and the kids are in danger, and so are they themselves. There are only a few ideas left for their survival, and one of them might be to drug Josh and bring the original person back to his body; the other one might be to find him in the other world itself. With time running out, and a serial killer ready to come back to this world through Josh’s body, this time more powerful than before, can they make the right decision and succeed or does the demon killer take charge start its killing procedure?

So where does the sequel stand in front of the original? I would consider it as slightly better than the original, even as most of the critics seemed to have found it negative if not average. I was surprised by the same though. The movie has an unsettling atmosphere supported by a truly phenomenal settings which has been used to support the same, and give us a truly paranormal feeling. The tricks to scare the audience might feel a little repetitive, but are used in the right manner with correct effects. Yes, it i genuinely scary, and undoubtedly scarier than its predecessor. There is the presence of more scary moments and it explains most of the things which were left unexplained in the first, and also contributes to the horror of the same. The spirits are pretty much good both in the real world and the other. The Lady in White and the Bride in Black are just two of those figures which rule the screen. There is nothing like the man possessed though. Insidious: Chapter 2 undoubtedly becomes the next best horror movie to The Conjuring here, and it is still insignificant as there are only two English horror movies released here. Yes, it is effective and undoubtedly very creepy and successfully scaring people. But do not watch this if you are not a horror fan or you are pseudo-horror fan who says that this isn’t enough for “the great ME” – the things pride can do to you, my dear vain man.

Patrick Wilson is the star here, and he plays the astral traveler possessed by the demon with so much ease. We can see his transformation as he becomes more and more of the demon who has taken over his body. He seems to be a person perfectly fitting horror movies – loved his performance in The Conjuring too. He was a gifted spirit walker, but is now kept out of his body by the demon, both roles well done. There is a little bit of The Shining’s Jack Torrance in him for sure. Rose Byrne has a sweet and innocent screen presence, and Barbara Hershey is no stranger to such things, tracing back to playing that victim of supernatural sexual liasions in The Entity – her presence itself is a real boost to the movie. Jocelin Donahue plays Lorraine’s younger self to perfection, and Lin Shaye’s Elise is very good, and her younger self played by Lindsay Seim is no different. Leigh Whannell and Angus Sampson as Specs and Tucker provides the comic relief which is very less throughout this serious movie. Tom Fitzpatrick’s villain is strong and ruthless, yet made scary more by the visual imagery and effects rather than anything else, and so is the case with Danielle Bisutti’s Lady in white, or the Mother of Crane. The kids have limited role this time, and are no longer the focus of the movie.

Thanks to James Wan for giving us this fine sequel, the third of his brilliant horror collection beginning from Insidious and going through The Conjuring. It is very much a necessary sequel and it only adds to the value of its predecessor even as it doesn’t reach above The Conjuring. None of the two movies of the series are to be looked at alone, as they perfectly compliments each other, adding something which perfects the other. There has been nothing wrong with the badly reviewed horror flicks of the year, The Chainsaw 3D, The Haunting in Connecticut: Ghosts of Georgia, and this one – but the critics choose to devalue them for almost no real reason. They can’t understand that the Lady in White or the mother was mentally not right. I wonder why would they feel bad about people in the other world being white, and how the people in this world are able to fight with the demons in the spectral world. People are looking for strange questions while it is not the movie that makes sense, but their questions. They can’t find the answers, but it doesn’t mean that they can take the creativity of the viewer as a big zero, for nowadays it is the common arts graduate who has the right imagination. But still, The Conjuring might be the horror movie of the decade if we consider The Cabin in the Woods as not just horror.

It is the season of demons, that is for sure – just because of one thing, that Krrish 3 has been given four out of five by some strange people. Such acts of evil has forced me to keep the rating of this movie a little higher than I intended to. There are weird people in this part of the world who rate the movies of their language high, and the others low – and some of them follows the foot steps of those who reviewed it from America and Europe, but in that case, one has to consider the fact that what third rate movies like Krrish 3 would get if they review the same would be zero out of five if no negatives are allowed. So following their rating for English movie is pure hopelessness as long as they are going to rate horrible Bollywood movies with a consistent four out of five just because it has superstar sons acting in it or the same will make the pathetic fan-boys and girls incredibly happy. May be they can learn something from the Malayalam movie critics who give a maximum of three out five for the best movie of the year. Our world will only get better when the demonic fans disappear and all actors are considered as equal performers – hope Insidious could do that.

Release date: 15th November 2013 (India); 13th September 2013 (US)
Running time: 106 minutes
Directed by: James Wan
Starring: Patrick Wilson, Rose Byrne, Lin Shaye, Ty Simpkins, Barbara Hershey, Steve Coulter, Leigh Whannell, Angus Sampson, Lindsay Seim, Jocelin Donahue, Andrew Astor, Danielle Bisutti, Tom Fitzpatrick, Michael Beach

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠The Vampire Bat.