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Cinema/TV, Film Notes

Fantasia International Film Festival review – Le Manoir

My notes on the French spoof slasher, screened at Fantasia.

Ten French student friends rent a Belgian mansion for a 2000s-themed New Year’s Eve costume party, and are so self-involved as they live up to their stereotypes (stoner, Mom-dominated virgin, pettish princess, tough chick, jealous asshole ex, disco stud, etc) that they don’t clock obvious omens like being warned not to venture into the nearby woods because of the boar-hunting that goes on there or the general hidden-passageways vibe of the old dark house itself.

 

Indeed, when a beloved pet dog turns up decapitated and an antler-masked killer begins stalking the young folks – the first victim is would-be porn star Djamal (Yvick Letexiewr), who gets hung from the ceiling by his enormous dick, suggesting the general tone of the film – this lot still don’t get off their hobby horses long enough to pay attention.  Schlub Bruno (Ludovik Day) is upset when he learns that the latest casualty is the only girl in the group who’s ever smiled at him, but only because this means his chances of getting laid before getting killed are now reduced to zero.  Stephane (Jerome Niel) is so hung up on his former girlfriend Sam (Vanessa Guide) that he barely even notices his face swelling up like fungus after he’s been bitten by a cobra in the back of a make-out wagon driven onto the scene by strutting dolt Enzo (Baptiste Lorber) who loses his legs to a man-trap (inevitably,his friends’ attempt to prise it off just makes things worse) and then asks Sam and Jess (Delphine Baril) to give him a lapdance as a final request, which they duly fulfill.  Couple Farbrice (Marc Jarousseau) and Nadine (Nathalie Odzierejko) try to keep the party going well after everyone else wants to concentrate on escape attempts and drug-addled dolt Frazic (Vincent Tirel) gives Mexican shrooms cupcakes to meek tagalong cousin Charlotte (Lila Lacombe), who wanders off and has a spiritual encounter with a talking pig before returning to the mansion a changed girl.

 

Apparently, director Tony T. Datis recruited most of his cast from French youtube, which perhaps explains the inconsistent levels of performance – with a bit too much ranting and gurning early on that gives the actors nowhere to go, and only Lacombe trying anything like subtlety. There’s a pleasingly old-fashioned feel to the house itself, which could have come from a Cat and the Canary knock-off, while the take-it-to-eleven obnoxious kids might be construed as some sort of satire of the excesses of certain American ‘80s slasher movies – even if the tone is closer to something overtly satirical like Pandemonium or National Lampoon’s Class Reunion than any of the more mainstream teen-kill pics.  The script – by Bernardo Barilli, Dominique Gauriaud, Jurij Prette and Jarousseau – incorporates a decent-enough mystery angle, and a few nods to genre milestones (a hidden space evokes Norman Bates’ childhood bedroom – and there’s a taxidermy theme too).  It’s even funny that this lot think dressing up as Paris Hilton is nostalgic, though the fact that almost everyone is awful makes it difficult to work up anything like suspense.  Extra points for Pauline the South American hallucinogenic toad, who is popped out of a box and into a killer’s mouth for a strangely psychedelic finish.  Choppy, and a tad overlength, but mostly fun.

 

Here’s a trailer.

 

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