Welcome witches and warlocks,

Today I will be reviewing the horror feature LE MANOIR by director Tony T. Datis. To best describe the story, I will turn to the IMDB plot summary:

“A band of students come to celebrate the New Year in an old manor house isolated from everything. But soon after their arrival, strange events disrupt the atmosphere, before the party turns squarely to the nightmare.”

Through the years many different stereotypes have popped up in the horror genre concerning the various rules instituted in slasher films. At this point things like race, drug usage, or sexuality have put such a target on people’s backs that we as a viewer can practically guess who is going to die next. Since they used some of these touchstones near the beginning of the movie I was lulled into thinking that I knew how events were going to unfold, only to be pleasantly surprised with the conclusion.

Speaking of the actual plot, from a story standpoint the events are fairly routine. What will determine one’s enjoyment of this piece is whether or not the characters and their sense of humor work for the viewer. Some of the bits were so familiar that I could name the exact picture from which they were pulling their punchlines while others I found to be laugh out loud funny. Obviously mileage will vary on comedy as everyone has different tastes, but overall I thought the characters to be entertaining enough to carry the picture.

I will grant that the actual characters are rather thin, but the actors who portray them handle themselves with such conviction that they make these people entertaining. It is hard not to laugh at Enzo’s entrancing entrance or to find some small bit of sympathy for Stephan’s jealousy when the actor’s capture the little spark of special in each of their roles. Of particular note are Lila Lacombe and Marc Jarousseau whose parts are so wonderfully over the top that they are allowed to really cut loose.

Since we have covered acting, story, and stereotypes, I believe we should not turn to examining the scares used in this feature. For the most part, they stick to the loud noise based shocks with only a few scenes using the creaking floorboards and silence to good effect. Granted, those moments where they do muffle the background noise to focus on the things that go bump in the night are wonderfully tense, but they are not so prevalent as I would have liked.

All in all, this is an amusing little diversion with a few nice surprises. While much of it seems to run by the book, the moments where they change up the formula are quite brilliant. I especially appreciated the last scene. Fans of movies like Severance (2006) and Scream (1996) should find themselves plenty entertained by this feature.

LE MANOIR had it’s North American Premiere at the Fantasia Film Festival on July 21st.

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