Oh, why did I even fucking bother with this one when I knew it would be mediocre at best and try-hard at worst, and manages to end up being both at the same time. It was so easy to second-screen this film during the 20-minute exposition bore period that I’ve now consumed enough beers at a slow pace to be actually drunk while writing this little movie diary entry and don’t worry, that won’t make reading this any more interesting.
Barbara Hershey, an actress I know to be of repute beyond the beginning of my existence and who, admittedly, has the most magnetic screen presence that’s wasted on this film, stars in The Manor as a grandmother who’s not, like, a regular grandmother, but a cool grandmother (no, really, she’s pretty fucking cool, she knows Insta, wears black and cites horror trivia on demand). After a bit of a mental episode at her last birthday, her family naturally shoves her into an elderly care home.
We know what’s coming to paint the dread-by-numbers: elder abuse, a fucking shitty arsecunt of a crime but depicted in a way that’s patently unrealistic given that the facility is the titular manor, so stately it counts one person of colour among its residents (but plenty among the hand-tied staff). It’s so over-the-top maybe the director idk ripped out the ‘subtlety’ page of the dictionary and used it for some mayosapien ceremony in which everyone gathers in a drumming circle to say ‘namaste’. Anyway, Babs realises that something’s probably amiss when she keeps hallucinating this branch-like demon that steals the lifeforce of other residents, plus there’s a creepy black cat (seriously with this harmful bullshit stereotype?), but of course everyone and their mum and the “I’ve worked here 20 years and this is normal” doctor are totally probably maybe gaslighting her.
It’s a mess of traditional atmosphere-building and sticking to those rules, along with trying so hard to do something fresh that it just takes too long and ends up being a bit of a stale squib, and the exploitation of elder abuse – one of my worst fears for those I love (and myself) feels tacky in its execution. I’d still recommend sticking around to see how the core mystery unravels, but while the credits rolled I felt like I’d just been had. Or tried to be had. This made the sappy k-drama I’ve been watching look like a fucking masterpiece though, so I suppose there’s some merit to be extracted from this.
Score: 🎃 🎃