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Friday, May 8, 2020

The Mansion (2017)



I do a weekly podcast with some friends and one of the running jokes is that I don’t like French made horror flicks. I’ve watched a ton of them from some of the earlier Jean Rollin flicks to the newer stuff that came out in the last ten years. I’m just not a fan of them and the sensibility that those filmmakers bring to filmmaking. You are likely wondering why then I chose to watch a French horror comedy like The Mansion with what I just wrote. Well honestly, I didn’t know what it was when I picked it off of Netflix. Once I start something though, I normally stick with it. That doesn’t always work out well for me, but here it did.

Things kick off with a typical setup. We see what looks to be a bunch of college friends headed out to an isolated mansion for a weekend of partying to celebrate the new year. You have all the greatest hits here including the nerdy guy, the couple, the former couple complete with the guy who won’t’ admit it is over, the outsider, and of course the stoner. With such a group what could possibly happen? The correct answer to that is a hell of a lot!

After some drinking and backstory, we have a girl wander off into the woods tripping on shrooms while someone kills the little dog that was with them. Okay that pissed me off, especially when they play it for laughs. I’m a dog person and hate to see a movie do shit like this. Murder the hell out of the annoying college kids, but leave the pets alone… Back to the story after the dog they realize that the girl is missing which leads them to splitting up and that is where the bodies start to drop. The rest of the movie is the ever-shrinking cast of characters trying to sort out who is killing them and why. It all ends with what I think is a satisfying twist.

Our Cast of Characters
There were so many reasons for me to dislike The Mansion. It is French, a horror comedy (which is normally never works), and they kill a dog right away. Somehow, I ended up liking the movie. The story is solid and paced nicely. It takes a while to get to the killing, but that time is spent developing the characters and setting up some jokes that pay off nicely as the movie progresses. The Mansion works both as a horror movie and a comedy providing good scares and kills while also being funny at times. The cast is excellent in their roles and the performances aren’t distracting while still managing to fit the absurd and over the top situations they asked to portray.

As I’ve already mentioned the ending to the movie is very satisfying. First the reveal of who the killer is, and their motives was out of left field but kind of made sense. In hindsight you can see how they were manipulating the situation and orchestrating things. Then we have the survivors, which weren’t the characters I expected. That meant I was shocked when certain people were picked off, which was a nice change of pace for a jaded horror nerd like myself. This is an excellent story that keeps the audience guessing.

The Killer looks cool
This is a body count movie so I suppose we should talk about kills. Understand that The Mansion is being played for laughs so while we get some creepy and occasional scary bits the gore is more implied than explicit. That said we do get a guy losing his legs in a bear trap, a throat getting cut, death by rolling pin, a pitchfork thru the chest, and someone gets set on fire. My favorite kill is offscreen and we only see the end result. That kind of makes sense since it appears that a guy is killed and hung by his equipment… Probably would have been tough to show that onscreen. There is also a running gag about a guy getting bit by a cobra and how his face continues to swell up that is some good practical effects makeup.

I don’t think that I would have given this movie a chance had I know it was before starting it. That would have been a damn shame because the Mansion is a lot of fun. This is why I will occasionally decide to randomly pick a couple of movies off of a streaming service and give them a chance. I also have the rule that if I start it, I finish it. I highly recommend this one and also suggest that you hit up your favorite streaming service and pick a random flick to check out.


© Copyright 2020 John Shatzer 

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