The Mansion aka Le Manoir 2017
A band of students comes 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.
Bernardo Barilli, Dominique Gauriaud, Marc Jarousseau, and Jurij Prette
Tony T. Datis
Marc Jarousseau, Nathalie Odzierejko, and Ludovik Day
A recent article on Horror Freak News featured a video essay from Watch Mojo that identified the Top 10 Horror Movie Victim Types. They identified the following: The Nonbeliever/Skeptic, The Redneck, The Fat One, The Love Interest/Best Friend, The Stoner/Idiot, The Authority Figure/Useless Cop, The Jock/Jerk, The Promiscuous Guy/Girl, The Black Guy (Who Always Dies First), and (of course) The Final Girl. Coincidentally (or perhaps tellingly), there are 10 characters in The Mansion aka Le Manoir, and they encapsulate every one of these now-standard archetypes; The Black Guy (who has a big dick, by the way) indeed dies first and The Final Girl is also a virgin, per established horror movie conventions. Whereas American & Canadian college kids find their ways to cabins in woods to celebrate Winter and Spring Breaks, European kids flock to castles. It’s the perfect setting for what is essentially a PG-13 (soft R for drug use, perhaps) live-action, 100-minute episode of Scooby-Doo for the New Millennium. Yes, these meddling kids even have a dog!
Related Article: The Top 10 Types of Horror Movie Victims! Which One Are You?
The Mansion takes a few pages from New French Extremity and reminded this aficionado of the brutal black comedy Sheitan and 1999’s Deep in the Woods. There’s no extremity here, however; The Mansion has a vibe more akin to Christopher Smith’s Severance (but without any boobs). If I had to guess the target audience, I’d hypothesize producers were aiming at the late-teens/early-twenties set, those who might have flocked to see Scream and I Know What You Did Last Summer back in the day. It’s vastly entertaining and even though The Mansion isn’t very original, it incorporates recent haunted-house horror tropes seen in films like The Boy and Housebound.
Official Synopsis: When friends decide to get together and celebrate the New Year in a remote mansion, they plan on making it a memorable occasion, even if it means being cut off from the outside world. The festive mood turns sour soon enough when one of them disappears. It rapidly descends into a nightmare when their search for him leads to this discovery of Djamal’s corpse hanging by his penis. Trapped in the middle of nowhere, they’ll have to learn how to work together if they want to survive the night.
Le Manoir is directed by Tony T. Datis for a script written & assembled by Bernardo Barilli, Dominique Gauriaud, Marc Jarousseau, and Jurij Prette. The film stars Marc Jarousseau, Nathalie Odzierejko, and Ludovik Day.
The Mansion echoes 2012’s Cabin in the Woods in a variety of ways; the set-up is incredibly reminiscent and the film’s packed with self-conscious references. Just about every familiar trope is openly discussed and upended: The lack of cell phone reception, warnings of renegade hunters in the woods, instructions to remain off the 2nd floor (which is forbidden), secrets unearthed in the attic, a location with a history of past Satanic rituals… the list goes on and on! One of my favorite similarities is the elevation of the Stoner motif. Like Marty from Cabin (played by Fran Kranz), psychonaut Drazic (played by Vincent Tirel) is an unlikely hero. His bag of tricks, which includes every substance from mundane marijuana to poison toads, turns out to contain the secrets to survival. Being a stoner, it seems, allows for true perceptiveness when it comes to surviving horror-movie scenarios, and I absolutely love how the slacker stereotype is so often challenged in modern genre offerings.
First and foremost, The Mansion is funny; as with all good horror-comedies, the film is grosser than it is scary and far more sarcastic than it is terrifying. While gorehounds won’t find much satisfaction, there are a few scenes of intensely gratuitous violence (though these are always juxtaposed against extremely comic acting). It’s not hardcore, but The Mansion is far more irreverent than your average teen-massacre send-up. Imagine if Scream were to be remade with the cast from Saturday Night Live; there’s a self-deprecating element throughout that allows us to revel in the characters’ misfortunes, even as we secretly hope things will work out for the best (for some of them, at least). Much of the film’s humor comes from (literal and figurative) evisceration of millennials and youth culture, but there’s a good-natured vibe to it all, one that allows for the celebration of the younger generations unique foibles.
Just as the characters in The Mansion are young adults lamenting their inevitable march into adulthood, there are themes involving fear of change that speaks to both millennials and the horror genre itself. We complain about the same-old-same-old but react with extreme aversion to new/unfamiliar experiences. There’s a protective bubble created by our obsession with the internet, within which one can create a world that suites his/her specific tastes to the exclusion of all else. When the villain is revealed, his motivation stems from a desire to freeze time, thereby keeping the familiar world in stasis. Of course, change is inevitable; change is perhaps the only universal constant. Those who refuse to adapt are doomed to a state of semi-existence, not unlike an animal post taxidermy.
Bottom Line: The only R-rated aspects of The Mansion are pervasive drug use and dick jokes. Still, this is top-notch PG-13 caliber viewing experience. It’s light on gore and excessive violence, but that doesn’t make it sanitized—far from it. Fans of horror comedy and satirical eviscerations of youth culture will definitely want to give The Mansion a whirl.