Slasher; hilarious; hung by his penis. Got your attention, now? Those are some of the terms I’d use to describe Tony T. Datis’ first feature film, straight outta France, “Le manoir” a.k.a. “The Mansion,” which made its North American premiere at Montreal’s Fantasia International Film Festival.
Ten young adults go partying for New Year’s Eve in a spacious, old mansion owned by the family of two these lively partyseekers. Among them are typical characters, including the drug addict, the nymphomaniac, the jealous ex-boyfriend (whose ex-girlfriend is also partying with them (obviously)) and the nerdy virgin. The hilarity and the partying begin almost simultaneously, as they plan on bursting into the new year in grand fashion. However, when one of the girls’ miniature dog pops up bodyless and a partygoer is found hung by his genitals, the evening takes a whole different turn… and it won’t just be the champagne bottle that’s gonna pop.
After working on big music videos for Skrillex and Katy Perry, Tony T. Datis gives it a shot at the comedy-horror genre as its director, and he does a decent job at it. It doesn’t completely stand out from any other comedy-slasher, but it doesn’t look amateurish either. Interesting camera angles and good integration of comedy within suspenseful moments succeed in keeping the audience entertained visually in addition to piling the laughter. If you understand French, the dialogue will be that much more hilarious, but even if you don’t and need to keep up with the subtitles, you should still get a kick out it. As for the jump-scares, you’re not gonna find that many; a common slasher with lots of humor, with some above-average special effects (namely, the increasingly disfigured face of one individual who was violently assaulted by a very venomous cobra).
The highlight characters, in my opinion, are the wannabe-Hollywood actor, Djamal (Yvick Letexier; “Mister V” on YouTube), and the druggie, Drazic (Vincent Tirel). SIDE-SPLITTING. What’s impressive about the cast in this film is that most are famous French Youtubers who made the jump to the silver screen and perform remarkably well, not showing any signs of first-time jitters. I never followed these online performers before, so I don’t have a biased opinion about them, and their onscreen chemistry was entertaining.
The few hiccups in the movie would be the killer’s questionable attire (a deer mask with elongated antlers) and his actual motive for executing these dirty deeds (no spoilers, don’t worry). I just didn’t really care for, nor believe in, either of these aspects. Neither seemed really credible, creepy, or worth it.
All in all, “Le manoir” is still an entertaining first attempt at feature films and promises to be career-worthy, especially for the motion picture virgins who will have you tilting your head back in amusement. Receiving 3.5 stars out of 5, it is worthy of your interest and deserves to be seen.