Blumhouse returns to Amazon Prime with two feature-length horror stories, ‘The Manor’ and ‘Madres.’ Both films feature strong female protagonists, and along with ‘Black as Night’ and ‘Bingo Hell’ the four films represent a modest improvement over the studio’s 2020 offerings. You can read the ‘Black as Night’ and ‘Bingo Hell’ reviews over at The Cinema Files.
Written and Directed by Axelle Carolyn
Starring Barbara Hershey, Bruce Davidson, Stacey Travis, Ciera Peyton, Jill Larson, Mark Steger, Nicholas Alexander
The second round of Welcome to the Blumhouse hits Amazon Prime this weekend, and it starts with Axelle Carolyn’s “The Manor,” a slick looking and horrific tale of a senior stuck in a nursing home with terror in nearly every corner.
Barbara Hershey stars as Judith Albright, a recent cardiac patient placed in an assisted living facility at the insistence of her child. “The Manor” is stately, and Hershey’s performance, easily the best of the lot of four Welcome to the Blumhouse films, is first-rate. She is a fiercely independent woman and resents being put into the home, with a daughter, Trish (Jill Larson), eager to ensure she has the best possible care, which the staff at The Manor are very keen to attend the residents.
Carolyn injects real dramatic humanity into the character, but Barbara Hershey’s performance sets “The Manor” apart. This is not to say that “Black as Night” or “Bingo Hell” don’t display some level of humanity; their focus is more on the horror aspect. “The Manor” focuses on the dramatics of old age, family, and care.
Bruce Davidson co-stars as Roland, whose performance and role are much more than meets the eye. Davidson is a perfect acting companion for Hershey, as the residents of The Manor start mysteriously dying off. Carolyn turns the film into a mystery underpinning the horrors in the home, while Nicholas Alexander’s Josh, Judith’s grandson, aids Judith with discovering the truth about the Manor.
“The Manor” is now streaming on Amazon Prime.
Directed by Ryan Zaragosa
Written by Mario Miscione and Marcella Ochoa
Starring Tenoch Huerta, Elpidia Carrillo, Kerry Cahill, Ariana Guerra, Jennifer Patino, Britton Webb, Evelyn Gonzales
Set in the 1970s, a young Mexican-American couple is on the move to a migrant farming community. Tenoch Huerta stars as Beto, a hardworking individual with dreams of a family. His wife, Anita (Elpidia Carrillo), is carrying their child. Anita has vivid nightmares, even during the day, leading to stress. Beto tries to help his wife as best he can, but her demons get worse. What they discover will shock you.
Zaragosa directs “Madres” with an assuredness that I hadn’t expected. Huerta plays Beto in a concerned way, giving rise to the dramatics of life in the 1970s. It is Carrillo that carries the film, and Zaragosa correctly focuses on the actress. Anita, like Judith from “The Manor,” strikes a tone of independence. She wants to get to the bottom of her nightmares to protect her child and her family.
By setting the film in the 1970s, scribes Mario Miscione and Marcella Ochoa elevate a painful moment in our history, which is repeating itself today (make sure to watch the title cards at the end of the film), which are preceded by a rather frightening image.
“Madres” is not your traditional horror story, and Blumhouse Television lined their releases well this year. Both films are infinitely better than “Black as Night” and “Bingo Hell.” If horror is your jam, all four are worth checking out, now on Amazon Prime.
The Manor – NR, 85 minutes, Amazon Studios/Blumhouse Television
Madres – NR, 87 minutes, Amazon Studios/Blumhouse Television