As a law firm that is dedicated to the protection of elderly people, we have an interest in films that depict the treatment of nursing home residents – no matter how fantastic they may be. These days, it is rare to see elderly people in leading roles, and nursing homes are not a common setting for films, so we salute the use of both.
In this review, we will compare the recent horror film The Manor (2021) with nursing home horrors we have unfortunately witnessed in real life. The film was produced by Blumhouse Television, and written and directed by Axelle Carolyn. It is streaming on Amazon.
This review contains spoilers.
Inattentive Nursing Home Staff: When the main character, Judith – played by the wonderful Barbara Hershey, tries to tell members of the nursing home staff that something is wrong, they ignore her or tell her she is mistaken, causing her to doubt that the horrors she is seeing are even happening. Worse yet, when she calls for help, they are late or totally absent. Unfortunately, this reflects the realities of understaffing, which is one of the biggest problems in nursing homes.
Isolation: Upon checking into the nursing home, Judith is cut off from the outside world. Her phone is taken away. Communication with her loved ones is limited. She is prevented from going outside. This isolation can be seen as a form of emotional abuse. Nursing homes should not be taking private property from residents or cutting them off from the world outside. Just as many nursing home residents do in real life, Judith resorts to escaping from the nursing home and is found wandering around on the roadside.
Overmedication: In the movie, Judith and other residents are given pill after pill, never really being told what they are or what they are for. In reality, the use of medication as a chemical straightjacket is an increasing problem in nursing homes. Further, medication errors and overdoses are a serious problem.
Restraints: Residents being strapped into beds or wheelchairs is also a common problem in real life nursing homes. This practice can lead to serious injuries including bedsores if residents are kept in one place too long. In the film, they are used on Judith and other residents to make them easy prey for the supernatural horror that haunts the nursing home.
Witches: Finally, a horror that nursing home residents in the real world are not likely to have to worry about. That being said, resident-on-resident attacks is a serious concern, and nursing homes do have a responsibility to prevent one elderly person from causing harm to another. When they fail to do so, it can qualify as nursing home negligence.
The Manor features great performances by Barbara Hershey in the lead and Bruce Davison as the villain. It is filled with suspense and scares, and an interesting twist ending. However, people with loved ones in nursing homes or those whose loved ones have experienced elder abuse or neglect may have a difficult time with this film.