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Vampire Owl: His ideas are as outdated as the castle dungeon coating.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

Ima

Vampire Owl: I always knew that this was going to happen; I actually thought that it could happen much earlier.

Vampire Bat: What exactly are you talking about?

Vampire Owl: A movie on IMA – Indian Military Academy, about the training and other incidents at the place.

Vampire Bat: No, this is not about the officer training Academy of the Indian Army at Dehradun.

Vampire Owl: You mean that this about the same, a new academy based out of somewhere else?

Vampire Bat: This has no relationship with the military.

Vampire Owl: So, this is about Indian Medical Association? Thus it could be based out of anywhere.

Vampire Bat: I see that your Malayalam has hit a new bottom. You don’t even know what “ima” means?

Vampire Owl: I am one of those evil people who read and talk less of mother tongue.

Vampire Bat: Oh! I am sure that it makes you more evil than most of the villains.

[Gets some potato chips and three cups of Ceylon tea].

What is the movie about? :: The movie tells the story of Madhavan (Pratap Pothen) and Radhu (Menaka Suresh), a couple in their fifties, who are living all by themselves in a house in their village, disconnected from the busy world. They have nobody for help, and their best friends are their two pets, a parrot and a dog. Their best access to the town is through a rowing boat, and they rarely go out that far. Radhu is blind, but she is very much adjusted to live in the house without her sight, accustomed to each corner and each object there. Madhavan has his own eye problems, and has only a terribly blurred vision without his glasses – the spectacles are the first thing that he searches for, right after he wakes up; not tea, newspaper, his loved ones, or anything else. It is only after he puts them in front of his eyes that his day begins.

So, what happens next? :: It is just the love for each other that they need in this life. They balance each other and their life, which goes on as they are there for each other. But there is a complication when Madhavan’s glasses are broken. He finds himself more vulnerable than ever, and he feels more blind than his wife. But when there is the love for your life on your side, there is no need to panic. True love is the one in which both always care for one another. There is no blindness that can stop the light from coming in and staying in their lives, and they will realize that again. It is those little things in life that makes one feel the love again, and being together for eternity is what fairy-tales have wanted us to believe. These two need no fairy-tales, Shakespearean Sonnets, or tales of true love to bring certainty, as they know that they have each other, forever.

Soul exploration 1: True love and where it stands beyond lust and infatuation :: These days, one can only keep wondering where the true love lies. It is mostly in those movies which are rather overrated in the name of love, but the same is not reflected in our lives – sometimes the so called love is compared to leaving the one whom he or she is supposed to marry on the location of wedding itself, but that would be nothing less than lust and infatuation. True love is a case of understanding and care which has to be there all the time. But the new generation struggles to find the same, giving into those things which have no part in the soul, like beauty and wealth. When providing support to the better half isn’t the first thing to do in marriage, it is no real life after wedding at all. True love is when it is a person whom one loves, and not his or her money or body. When souls unite, everything is else is just optional.

Soul exploration 2: Love as a journey of togetherness for eternity :: Through marriage, one also promises to take care of the other until death, and it is something which has to be done all the time. The older generation, despite having their own problems, seemed to understand it better, no matter the degree of love which they show. Whatever problem one has, the other has to nullify the same. It is those who are ready to take this step, that needs to be in such a relationship – it is the others who marry in the name of the spouse having a big job, wealth in the name of cash, big house, luxurious car or property that won’t understand this idea of eternity. But there are those people who look for these features on the one they are to marry, and some people even ask for a government job for the groom – some people just never consider goodness to be a positive thing in a relationship.

How it finishes :: The movie’s cast is rather small, as except for Pratap Pothen and Menaka Suresh, there are no real human presence – the exceptions there are the one who delivers the newspaper in the morning and the one who rows the boat. It is the pair that excels above everything else in this movie. Also, the visuals are too good, with the simplicity as well as the beauty that it possessed. What we have to note is how a simple incident in the lives of two simple people has been made so interesting in such a less run-time. It is also the kind of life that we hope everyone would have, and we feel that maybe this little short-film about the love and care for each other that a couple shows, will stay in the mind of many more people and inspire them to be of love and support for each other, living up to the wedding vows which they exchange. It is the message that a messed up world needs, and it is what everyone should take home and keep with them.

[Walks into the balcony with another cup of tea].

Vampire Owl: Humans can love like this? I wouldn’t believe that.

Vampire Bat: Human capability for love is very much there, but it is just that they won’t try that hard to love.

Vampire Owl: These humans are rather too selfish. When was the last time love was really love?

Vampire Bat: It is easier to hate due the inherent evil in man. It was proven in The Belko Experiment too.

Vampire Owl: But they find writing about love to be rather easy. They even make so many movies with love being the theme, like Anarkali, Ennu Ninte Moideen, London Bridge, Premam, Kismath, Thattathin Marayathu, Basheerinte Premalekhanam, Madhura Naranga, Om Shanti Oshana and all.

Vampire Bat: Romantic movies are the easier ones to make. It is the reason why Bollywood have so many of them.

Vampire Owl: Moonnamathe Vazhi was a nice romantic short-film and so was The Story of 90 Coins, I remember.

Vampire Bat: You remember Munthirivallikal Thalirkkumbol injecting romance into family drama and CIA: Comrade in America doing the same into communism; Sakhavu also did the latter.

Vampire Owl: Still, there is nothing like Brooklyn with its romance.

Vampire Bat: And Crimson Peak with its good old Gothic Romance Horror.

[Walks into the silence of darkness].

Release date: 10th June 2017
Running time: 11 minutes
Directed by: Liju Krishna
Starring: Pratap Pothen, Menaka Suresh

Watch the movie Ima here:

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.