Welcome to Blood on my Sofa! Each month I will be providing you with a movie recommendation. It won’t be just any movie, but a film I watched during the previous month that really rocked my world. In this installment, we will be taking a look at The Mansion.
To blend horror and comedy together requires a particularly skilled director. And though you may not believe it, the horror comedy The Mansion is Tony T. Datis’ first feature length film. Now, before you turn down that road of disbelief, understand that Datis’ experience stems from directing Katy Perry’s Wide Awake music video and most of Skrillex’s productions. Studying these projects reveals that Datis’ style consistently expresses more of a cinematic experience and less of a music video structure. Clearly, his intent has always been to direct a full-length film. So, let’s dive into the details behind his first venture.
In The Mansion, Nadine (Nathalie Odzierejko) and Fabrice (Marc Jarousseau) rent an isolated manor to bring in the New Year with several friends. When evening arrives, they host a party with a Year 2000 throwback theme. Most attendees are in festive spirit, dressed in costumes ranging from rapper Nelly to Hogwarts’s Ron Weasley. But as the night progresses, one costume appears that does not fit with the others. This human-shaped figure with antlers travels in and out of the mansion’s shadows, slaughtering the friends, one by one.
Horror is definitely present in The Mansion; but for me, the comedy overpowers the film—in a good way. For example, midway through the picture, a character pops in with his van called Cl*t. First of all, I want his van—with its blinding flood lights, sequined bed, and pet snake. Second, I want to be as cool as this guy. His entrance resembles the grand entrances of iconic characters from the 80s, who make you know that the party has now begun because of their presence. But in The Mansion, so much time is dedicated to this character’s arrival that you suspect something bad will happen. So after witnessing his godlike crotch gyrations at the night’s sky, we chuckle at the comedic display of his legs getting chopped in half by a bear claw.
Overall, the characters are greatly acted and defined, which makes it difficult to choose a favorite. Let’s begin with Fabrice, played by Marc Jarousseau, who also serves as one of the four writers for this project. I remember Jarousseau from Sharknado 5: Global Swarming alongside Nathalie Odzierejko, who plays Nadine in The Mansion. Then there is the character Djamal, played by the hilarious YouTube sensation Mister V. Rounding out standout characters are Bruno (Ludovik Day), Jess (Delphine Beril), and Stephane (Jerome Neil). But the one who keeps me pasted to the screen for his next move is Drazic (Vincent Tirel), toting his neatly organized, metallic briefcase of everything necessary to get high.
In addition to the acting, the camera work stimulates the action. For example, the film opens with shots of expensive sculptures in the mansion before revealing a maid packing frantically in an attempt to escape. The one-shot transition from her demise, to her disappearance, then to the group’s arrival is superb. Maximiliaan Dierickx serves as the cinematographer. I have seen his work in shorts and music videos; his lighting and camera always ooze passion. It’s no surprise that the lighting in The Mansion excels, despite the film taking place primarily at night.
You can’t be mad after watching The Mansion. It’s meant to be silly. It’s meant to entertain. It has the power to put a smile on your face after a long day, which is the case with a lot of Datis’s directorial projects. He is definitely just getting started in making us remember him in the full feature realm. And so, I look forward to where he takes us in his next venture.