After a fall at her own birthday party, Judith is taken to go live at The Manor, a residence for aging people who can no longer take care of themselves. There she meets new friends and finds that all is not as it seems to be.
Written and directed by Axelle Carolyn for the new Welcome to the Blumhouse series on Amazon, The Manor plays on many of the fears one has as they age from losing their faculties to losing their families and everything in between. Judith is someone who’s physical health is fairly good for someone her age, but she is quickly diagnosed with dementia. As she struggles with this diagnosis and the fact that her family would rather place her in a home than take care of her in their home, she learns to live with her new situation while dealing with potential supernatural events. The character of Judith is central to everything and she is written as a fully fleshed human, with her worries and her issues, her strengths and her weaknesses. The people around her are fairly well developed as well and they help take the story ahead with her at the center. The fact that the lead and a lot of the characters are over 70 is a nice change from most supernatural films out there. This change alone gives the film a bit of a breeze of fresh air and gives the audience something new to see. Of course, this group of aging characters bring with them issues that very much theirs and very much different from the usual in horror films. All of this is directed with care and respect for the leads and the subjects at hand.
Playing Judith is Barbara Hershey who is amazing as usual. She brings to her character personality and vulnerability, giving her dimension and emotions. She plays this character with just the right nuances and the right touch throughout. Her work here is what sells the film, she is the lead and the center of attention and she knows it. She works her magic as an eternal leading lady. Playing her new friends are Bruce Davison, Fran Bennett, Jill Larson, and Nancy Linehan Charles. Each of them brings something completely different to table, showing the different facets of aging. This supporting cast is great to watch. The rest of the cast including Nicholas Alexander and Ciera Payton also do very good work here.
The cinematography by Andrés Sánchez takes the story and the location and give them an old almost-goth vibes, showing the manor almost as a Hammer film would do. Their work makes it look like the manor is its own character at times, with imposing stature and fear-inducing personality. This work here is a great part of film and an integral part of the story.
The Manor is a great entry in the possibly haunted, possibly not house sub-genre. It’s not particularly scary, but it has plenty to offer beyond jump scares, which makes it a much more potent film to watch. The fear of aging and of aging alone is something most adult goes through at some point. This film takes this and plays with it adding supernatural elements and making something that is unknown and worth worrying about.