Home Entertainment Movie Reviews Axelle Carolyn’s ‘The Manor’ is a Thriller Worth Staying in For

Axelle Carolyn’s ‘The Manor’ is a Thriller Worth Staying in For


The Manor is available on Amazon Prime starting Friday, October 8th.

Reviewed by Stacey Yvonne:Out of the four features in this year’s Welcome to Blumhouse horror anthology series, two of them, The Manor and BINGO Hell feature senior casts. Normally when we see aged actors on screen it’s as some frail victim who acts as an unfortunate bystander, but The Manor flips this stereotype on its head, giving agency back to the elders. 

Starring prolific actress Barbara Hershey as Judith, The Manor shows us Judith’s journey into premature aging. A former ballet dancer and retiring instructor, the film opens as Judith celebrates her 70th birthday. She begins experiencing aphasia and forgetfulness and soon is diagnosed with rapidly increasing Parkinson’s. 

Through her own stubbornness to maintain autonomy, Judith volunteers to be taken to Golden Sun Manor, a gothic-style assisted living facility with sprawling grounds known for giving stellar care. She’s sad to leave her beloved grandson Josh (Nicholas Alexander) but is assuaged by his promises to visit consistently. After some initial discomfort that she blames away on jitters, Judith begins to fit into the culture of the Golden Sun. She befriends Roland (Bruce Davison) and roommates Trish (Jill Larson) and Ruth (Fran Bennett). Under the care of her primary nurse Liesel (Ciera Payton), Judith almost feels at home until the weird occurrences that started her first night continue at an escalated rate. Where she feared for her roommate, Ruth now fears for her own life. 

She begins to insist something is wrong and wants to withdraw herself from the facility but is unable to do so due not only to manipulated red tape but also to an ever-present supernatural presence. The more she fights, the more she proves to the powers that be that she is unwell. It will be up to Judith to use her cunning to find a way out of the precarious situation. 

What’s exciting is that even though her new friends acknowledge there is definitely some weirdness afoot, they’re suspiciously reluctant to act on it. Ruth and Trish have been roommates for what seems like decades based on how lived in their room appears. Roland is one of the few residents who are single, a perk he lists as an advantage to Ruth, whom he becomes romantically interested in. Ruth is resistant, not just because she’s really only looking for friends, but his normalcy in the face of screaming tenants, severed bird’s heads found under her mattress and the increasing insistence that she’s crazy are all prioritized over any romantic entanglements. Ruth is trying to fight for her life, she doesn’t have time for a boyfriend!

It’s a beat that truly allows you to sympathize with Ruth as she tries to make sense of the madness. The madness permeates the mind of the viewer and fills it with that sickly feeling of something not being quite right as soon as she enters Golden Sun. There’s something familiar about it, something sickly sweet on the surface and unpleasant underneath the freshly turned soil on the grounds.


Written and directed by Axelle Carolyn, The Manor is a strongly acted, well-shot film with legitimately fun twists and turns. The smartly constructed screenplay is even more brilliant on the second watch when you begin putting pieces together. This was Carolyn’s first feature film and as a lover of horror, she certainly debuted strong. There are certain tight angles and zoom sequences that allow the viewer to experience Judith’s growing paranoia and distortion. It’s used minimally which only enhances the effect. 

There’s a nearly palpable tension that Carolyn was able to pull from her actors that elevated The Manor from what could have been a very one-dimensional plot. The horrors of aging are manifested in the terror of those who surrounds Judith before finally descending on her itself. Her stubbornness is her strength and it allows her to not succumb, even when she’s being strapped into her bed and forcibly medicated. Watching her put the pieces together is thrilling where it could easily be frustrating. Carolyn does a great job of not giving too much away, but subtly tying clues into the set design where every piece has some sort of significance. This helps the pacing of the film and enables it to “show” instead of just “tell. There’s still some exposition, but it’s not excessive.

Nicholas Alexander’s performance as Josh is also to be commended. He is the one who points out that after his father (Judith’s son) passed, it was Judith who moved in with him and his mother and basically raised the young man. His devotion is played true and sets up a key point in the relationship later in the film. He wants desperately to believe his grandmother and give her the benefit of doubt, but where others just dismiss her issues as dementia, it’s Josh who goes the extra steps to prove it. Every action brings us closer to the crux of the film, there are truly no extraneous scenes. The film is tight and produces many thrills and chills. 

Without the supernatural element, The Manor would stand on its own as a thriller. With the supernatural element, The Manor becomes something that becomes a little more tongue in cheek as we race towards the end. It’s abrupt but so pleasing, it’s an entry I’m sure to watch multiple times. 

The Manor is available on Amazon Prime starting Friday, October 8th.


Score: 4/5 

Pull Quote: Written and directed by Axelle Carolyn, The Manor is a strongly acted, well shot film with legitimately fun twists and turns. This was Carolyn’s first feature film and as a lover of horror she certainly debuted strong.

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