Welcome To The Blumhouse: Interview With The Manor’s Axelle Carolyn

Part of Welcome To The Blumhouse, The Manor focusses on an elderly patient whose care home isn’t quite what she expected. We spoke to the movie’s writer and director Axelle Carolyn about how it came from a personal, dark place…

The Manor

As one of four creepy tales from Welcome To The Blumhouse, The Manor sees a malevolent force prey upon the residents of a sleepy nursing home…

When a mild stroke diminishes her ability to care for herself, Judith Albright (Barbara Hershey) moves to Golden Sun Manor, an assisted living facility with a sterling reputation.

But despite the best efforts of the staff, and a budding friendship with fellow senior Roland (Bruce Davidson), strange occurrences and nightmarish visions convince Judith that a sinister presence is haunting the massive estate.

As residents begin to die mysteriously, Judith’s frantic warnings are dismissed as fantasy. Even her devoted grandson Josh (Nicholas Alexander) thinks her fears are the result of dementia, not demons.

With no one willing to believe her, Judith must either escape the confines of the manor, or fall victim to the evil that dwells within it.

A fun yet chilling gothic tale, The Manor is sure to surprise you with its terrifying monster and a surprise twist. We spoke to its writer and director, Axelle Carolyn about her love of horror…

When did you first get the idea for The Manor?

It’s a very personal movie in some ways because it was derived from very dark moment in my life, seeing my dad have dementia in a nursing home. So it was seeing what nursing homes are like, and seeing a person you love change and go through the most extreme version of aging you can possibly go through.

I always seem to process things through the supernatural somehow, I’m a huge horror fan, and there are little things that happened. Like one night he woke up my mum and he says: ‘You don’t mind all those people watching us when we sleep?!’

Isn’t that just perfectly ripe for a supernatural interpretation of dementia? It just seemed so horrifying and isolating for him. At the same time, it was something I had to deal with and process and to me, the easiest way to do that is always to write a horror story about it.

At the centre of this movie is the relationship between a grandmother and a grandson, what made you want to explore the dynamics of this particular relationship?

Partly because I just liked the idea of her being liked by someone younger, without it being about just the fact that they’re related. She’s genuinely fun. She’s genuinely someone they have something in common with. She wears a more sophisticated version of the way that he dresses, they have the same interests.

They used to have a scene where they discuss horror movies together and how she’s the one who allows him to watch horror and his mum is not okay with that. Which is very much what I had with my grandma.

My grandma wouldn’t watch horror, she was very different from Judith, but it had that little kind of complicity with her in that she knew what I liked. So I would show up and as soon as my mum was gone, she’d be like, ‘I taped this off the TV yesterday’ and it’d be anything from Ghostbusters to Bruce Lee to whatever. Something she knew my mum would not approve of. She would never have watched herself  but she was like, ‘I think you might like it’.

So there was something rebellious about that that I’ve always thought was awesome and I wanted audiences to think about that.

The Manor
Judith (Barbara Hershey) is geninely fun and shares a lot of interests with her grandson Josh (Nicholas Alexander).

The Manor explores some very deep themes like loneliness and mortality, what is it about horror that makes it a good platform to delve into themes like these?

I think there are a couple of things. If I’d made a straight drama about this, it would have been very depressing, and I’m not even sure I would have watched it, to be honest! Because it’s a very dark and very personal topic. But if you make a mystery about it, that has supernatural elements and then it turns out to have a big monster in it, it’s fun!

Of course, you are aware of the themes but you don’t have to have a whole reflection about it. You can do that if you want, but you can also just enjoy the movie and have a good time.

I also think the more serious kind of cold-light-of-day answer is that horror is usually made on a smaller budget than most dramas and most movies that are considered more mainstream, so you can go to places that are more unusual. You can have characters who are less representative of the very typical mainstream audience member. The nice thing, in this case, is that I hope that it has a wider audience because I think these are concerns that everybody can have.

What do you want audiences to take away from the film?

I’m hoping that people find this is an entertaining movie that maybe at the end leaves you thinking. I hope. But it doesn’t have to, as long as you’ve had fun watching it!

The Manor will be released on 8 October on Prime Video.