Screened recently at the Fantasia International Film Festival and coming from France, we just saw “Le Manoir” (The Mansion), a comedy/slasher film where we meet a group of students reunited on a secluded mansion, with the goal of celebrating the arrival of the new year with alcohol, drugs and sex (or at least that is what some of them hope).
As the hours fly by, we see that this colorful group has its share of secrets, envy, resentment and unrequited love, but still, these friends promise to stay together no matter what. Little do they know, that as soon the first minutes of the new year start running, the numbers in their group will start to decrease in a fast and violent manner, courtesy of a mysterious masked visitor.
The slasher sub-genre is one of my favorites, and every time I see a film mixing it with comedy, I try to give it a fair chance, although I keep my expectations low. «Le Manoir» does not take too many risks, but still tries to deliver humor for different kind of tastes, and it actually succeeds in being entertaining. I imagine that there will be some jokes that will not connect that easily with the American audience due cultural differences (Think of the original «Taxi» movie and its American remake and you will get the idea) and others jokes for being too subtle or naive, but the movie never gets boring, nor relies its humor on references to other movies or pop culture, and for that, it earned my respect.
As you might expect, we see the slasher’s archetypal characters, some funny, other completely annoying (Intentionally, of course). The film kept me entertained and I had fun trying to guess which character would survive at the end: The desperate virgin?, The tomboy? The actor gansta’ wanna-be? The slut? The clingy ex? The lovely couple? The stoner?
Place your bets, I’ll admit that my guess was wrong.
There are a couple of kills that were very original (for the lack of a better word) and there are moments were you wonder which one is a bigger threat: the masked killer or the main character’s ineptitude. At first glance, the mandatory «reveal» seemed a little bit out of the left field, but on a second viewing (Perks of doing a remote coverage, ha-ha) it made more sense, and fits the plot just fine, I also got the chance to appreciate some jokes a little bit better (Still some jokes just don’t work, but I digress).
The film has good special effects, more so on the practical type and makeup. About the acting I’ll just say that it works, although some performances are a little bit over the top (again, intentionally, I suppose). The pacing can be an issue for some people, but I would recommend to bear with it, since the movie gets better on the second half and has a satisfying conclusion.
«Le Manoir» was directed by Toni T Datis, who is known for directing some video for Skrillex (First Of The Year, Batarang) and Katy Perry, I liked how the film looked and I felt the editing was also very good. The script was written by Bernardo Barilli, Dominique Gauriaud, Marc Jarousseau and Jurij Prette. In the cast with have the talents of Marc Jarousseau, Nathalie Odzierejko, Ludovik Day, Jérôme Niel, Yvick Letexier, Vincent Tirel, Vanessa Guide, Delphine Baril, Baptiste Lorber, Lila Lacombe, Willy Denzey and a especial performance by José García.
In conclusion, “Le Manoir” is not a comedy for everybody, you need to have a little patience to enjoy it, (specially if you are not familiar with French cinema) but I am sure that fans of the Slasher genre with have some laughs with it, maybe it will be funnier with some beers and in company of friends, but nevertheless is worth watching at least once.
Fantasia Film Festival is on its 21th edition, and has always been know for showing some of the best films in the Fantasy, Horror and Sci-Fi genres, currently running thru August 2nd. You can visit their official website to see more of the great material they are showing this year, and follow them in social media.