The name Blumhouse has become synonymous to horror movies and last year, they came up with a novel idea of presenting four independent full length horror movies under one common umbrella named “Welcome to the Blumhouse”. While the overall quality of that first selection was uneven, at least two of their offerings were decent and memorable namely “Norturne” (with Sydney Sweeney) and “The Lie” (with Peter Sarsgaard). Sadly for this second time round, none of the four features presented stood out and they were all rather uninspiring and forgettable.
The first two features “Bingo Hell” and “Black as Night” fall under the horror comedy genre which means the horror meter scale would be way low. That is no necessarily a bad thing if the comedy elements of the tale were funny but alas, even that fell flat. In Bingo Hell, we see a bunch of old folks battling it out against a new owner of their small town Bingo Hall who seem to have a sinister agenda. Adriana Barraza puts on a decent show as the feisty leader of the old folks community but she is handicapped by a story and script that never took off. The gore element presented were juvenile standard and never frightening. Next we have “Black as Night”, with a feisty young girl battling it out with a bunch of vampires in New Orleans with a er .. sinister agenda. Asjiha Cooper plays the feisty teenage vampire killer in a predominantly cast of black actors. The opportunity to promote #BlackLivesMatter agenda into the story is predictably taken up. Fortunately the level of this side-tracked racial theme is not as extreme to the level of a typical Jordan Peele production. Black as Night works better than Bingo Hell as a horror comedy simply because it is better written. The characters seem to be having more fun and this is infectious. However, the horror element failed to generate a similar outcome. The special effects were merely meh standard, and whatever gore that is supposed to happen on screen is filmed in dimly lit condition. The vampires seem to be pretty harmless as well, given how easily they were defeated.
The next two features “Madres” and “The Manor” had more serious themes. Madres opens by claiming to be based on true events which is a disservice since the story felt unbelievable. It might have been a better movie had it stuck to its core story about the plight and mistreatment of Mexican immigrants in the 1970’s, instead of incorporating some half baked horror element into the story. I personally found Madres to be the weakest in the entire series because of its lethargic flow and unconvincing plot. The final entry is “The Manor” which is probably the best in the pack. The Manor refers to the old folks home where the main character joins and finds herself trapped in. While the story here is once again, not very interesting, what made The Manor stand out as the best is the casting of Barbara Hershey in the lead. Hershey makes her character come alive and her performance was the one thing keeping me engaged and interested.
Welcome to the Blumhouse this time around was a disappointment and frankly, is a disrepute to the Blumhouse trademark for horror movies. One of the things that made last year’s season so much better is that the features came across like independent movies done on a small budget but with big creativity and originality. None of this year’s offering could fall under such a category.