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Vampire Owl: His ideas are as outdated as the castle dungeon coating.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

The Nun

What is the movie about? :: Making everyone aware of the events before The Conjuring 2 related to the demon nun, the viewers are taken to a monastery in Romania which is more or less resembling a castle from the medieval age. The nuns at the monastery are attacked by a demonic presence and the surviving nun, Sister Victoria (Charlotte Hope) commits suicide. Her body is discovered by Maurice Theriault a.k.a Frenchie (Jonas Bloquet) who brings the supplies to the monastery and believes that the crosses around the building only keeps the evil inside, not preventing anything evil from getting inside. Vatican, after knowing about the problem, sends the veteran investigator of the paranormal, Father Burke (Demian Bichir) to investigate, along with the British novitiate Sister Irene (Taissa Farmiga) who is supposed to have her special visions.

So, what happens with the events to follow? :: They do reach the destination and meet up with Frenchie who introduces the place as belonging to the Dark Ages or even further before. They find the body to be sitting instead of lying as it was kept earlier. Burke and Irene stays at the monastery while Frenchie returns home, only to be attacked on the way, near the tombs. Burke and Irene are also attacked by demons, but they manage to survive, and so does Frenchie who somehow reaches the local tavern. Burke who is almost buried alive is saved by Irene, and he hopes to do more with his skills. They figure out that there is a long history for the monastery which used to be a castle, and it says a story of demons, witchcraft and more terror that lies beyond and beneath. What they are seeing outside is only the tip of the iceberg, and more is to be revealed.

And what is follow with the tale? :: Sister Oana (Ingrid Bisu) at the monastery reveals to Irene that there is a terrible past that is not known about the monastery. She tells Irene that in this space, a castle by a duke who was obsessed with dark magic existed during the middle ages. The duke was killed by the forces of Vatican and the portal to hell which he was opening, was sealed with a certain artifact having the blood of Jesus Christ. It was the bombings of the Second World War that opened the portal again, and it seems that evil has crossed over to this world from the other. To prevent this evil entity from taking over, the nuns keep praying all the time, calling perpetual adoration to be the only chance to keep the demon away. But the question remains if that would be enough, as the demon is more powerful than they could ever imagine, and they are running out of time.

The defence of The Nun :: The best thing about the movie its setting itself. The Gothic setting gives the mystery more life, and we can feel the horror from the environment itself. The Gothic architecture with hidden secrets makes sure that we are wondering what would happen next. The scares are also waiting to happen at almost all corners. The darkness and the sound effects are also used to make sure that the frightening sequences manage more. The creepy feeling is always present. The movie also leaves something to bring a prequel to the beginning of the demon Valak’s existence in this world. More of how much it frightens you is based on your willing suspension of disbelief, and it is certainly not that easy in the modern world as far as the demons are concerned – humans can do that better, and be the bigger threat to their kind.

The claws of flaw :: There was something special expected with a movie of The Conjuring like The Nun. But the same is not delivered here, and the movie also seems to be confused about making the best use of the genre by adding the jokes when things should have been kept serious. The best of of the elements is not there when needed. There are also moments when the movie seems to provide the feeling of Evil Dead, a flick with which this one should have kept a distance considering the kind of themes the two deal with. Even with the religion and myth, the movie could have achieved more. It could have been longer with scarier moments with all those features that a Gothic castle in Romania could provide, taking us back to the memories of Bram Stoker’s Dracula itself.

The performers of the soul :: Taissa Farmiga remains strong throughout this movie, and it is a quality that has to be appreciated in horror movies when its heroine raises the level very much. Even though the name is not that much familiar to those from this part of the world, her work in the series American Horror Story did establish her as a scream queen much earlier. Demian Bichir makes a strong hunter of demons in this one. Jonas Bloquet supports pretty well, and adds a certain funny side even to the more serious sequences – that happens when not needed too. The other characters are of lesser relevance in comparison, and as in any other horror movie, they have a bigger struggle for survival compared to the main characters – from the results itself, it is clear that their existence is of less significance throughout the movie.

How it finishes :: The series of horror coming from The Conjuring franchise is never getting old – we have had The Conjuring, Annabelle, The Conjuring 2, Annabelle 2 and now The Nun, almost none of them failing to leave a mark in one way or the other. The Annabelle doll in the movie brought one spin-off earlier, and the demon Valak now brings another. There is always scope for a lot more in The Conjuring universe, but it surely have to do better, and more than what The Nun did. Despite agreeing to the fact that this is an enjoyable flick, the franchise needs to bring something special to keep the level of horror higher. All of us welcome each and every movie in the franchise with a lot of expectations, and there is always scope for more with all those demonic spirits among which many more are yet to come from hell.

Release date: 7th September 2018
Running time: 96 minutes
Directed by: Corin Hardy
Starring: Demian Bichir, Taissa Farmiga, Jonas Bloquet, Charlotte Hope, Bonnie Aarons, Ingrid Bisu, Jonny Coyne, Sandra Teles, Mark Steger, Manuela Ciucur, Ani Sava, Jared Morgan, August Maturo, Claudio Charles Schneider, Michael Smiley

<— Click here to go to the previous review, and what precedes the same.

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.