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'The Manor' review: Predictable horror movie with no genuine scares

Barbara Hershey stars in "The Manor" on Amazon

Barbara Hershey stars in "The Manor" on Amazon Prime Video. Credit: Amazon Prime Studios

MOVIE "The Manor"

WHERE Streaming on Amazon Prime Video

WHAT IT'S ABOUT "The Manor" offers a welcome starring role for Barbara Hershey, the Oscar-nominated actor whose illustrious career spans everything from "Beaches" to "Black Swan."

She plays Judith Albright in this horror movie, part of the 2021 edition of the "Welcome to the Blumhouse" film series that's now streaming on Amazon Prime.

Judith is a 70-year-old grandmother and dance instructor, who agrees to move into The Manor, a nursing home, after suffering a stroke and being diagnosed with Parkinson's disease.

The haunting nighttime apparitions and unsettling signs begin almost instantaneously, as does the distinct sense that the staff might be more interested in gaslighting Judith and her family than helping her feel comfortable in her new home.

"The Manor" is written and directed by Axelle Carolyn, and co-stars include the terrific veteran actor Bruce Davison.

MY SAY If the characters in "The Manor" had seen another horror movie, they'd surely have recognized all the warning signs in Judith's situation.

Her daughter Barbara (Katie Amanda Keene) and grandson Josh (Nicholas Alexander) would know that you never leave grandma in a facility like this after she warns you of the terrors visiting her.

You'd take note of her fervent pleas to be taken home, including an escape attempt that ends with workers dragging her back to The Manor.

You'd recognize that when the workers seize her phone permanently, something's up.

Or, at minimum, you'd see right through the condescending doctor who assures you that the best thing possible for Judith and her mental health is for her to be kept at the home, where she's "perfectly safe."

But they're oblivious, Judith is stuck, and "The Manor" plays like a cheaper and more predictable version of the same movie that's been made a thousand times over.

The demonic beings crawling on the wall; the staff members insisting that Judith swallow random pills; the too friendly residents who share a lavishly decorated room, complete with clothing for younger women: none of it stands out from the countless other horror pictures set inside group homes, asylums and the like.

It's all so generic: No shots of gathering black crows can compensate for the tame atmosphere and lack of a compelling backstory. Logical fallacies abound, including the ability for Josh to just stroll right into the place with impunity at any hour of the night.

There are elements of truth to the ways in which Judith's protestations are dismissed as the manifestations of early dementia.

The conceptual underpinnings of "The Manor" stand strong: fertile horror material can be found in a story built around societal condescension toward older populations.

But the writer-director doesn't seem to know how to draw it out.

So there's a default to hammering the point home, with Hershey repeatedly protesting the way she's treated with trite dialogue along the lines of "I'm not a child!"

It's great to see the Hollywood icon front and center in every scene, but even she needs something more to work with than that.

BOTTOM LINE This is a predictable horror movie without so much as a single genuine scare.

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