Harland Manor (2021) Review
Having found some success with their shark-themed original Swim, Tubi has made another genre film, Harland Manor. This time they’ve chosen another familiar, and popular, subject, paranormal investigators and haunted hospitals. Can director Steven R. Monroe (I Spit on Your Grave, Teardrop) and co-writer John Thaddeus deliver a film that will stand out, or will Harland Manor just be another address in the haunted neighbourhood?
A team of paranormal investigators, The Spirit Chasers, a team of paranormal investigators Jeanie (Camille Sullivan, Hunter Hunter, The Unseen), Evan (Dion Johnstone, The X Files: I Want to Believe), Zeke (Jonathan Lawrence, Contract Player) and Gilroy (Jeremy Walmsley, You’re Killing Me Susana) are looking for a killer location to wrap their season up.,
Harland Manor seems like a perfect choice. Large, old and imposing, it has a history that includes rape, murder and being used as both an asylum and for illegal abortions. But will the ghost of young Sarah (Summer H. Howell, Curse of Chucky, Channel Zero), reputed to have been carrying the child of Satan himself, and the Harland Manor’s other resident, the evil dr Harland himself, be too much for them?
With a setup and elements that have been used in everything from Grave Encounters to The Power Harland Manor really needed to come out swinging to set itself apart. Instead, the opening act is given over to the building’s owner, giving the crew a tour and detailing its sordid past. The most terrifying revelation is that there were still bloodstains on the floor from a fifty-year-old murder. Didn’t any of its owners believe in scrubbing the floors?
It’s not actually boring, but it’s not overly captivating either. There are all the expected elements, drama among the group’s members, a room that hasn’t been opened in decades, violent warnings from the spirits, etc. But despite it all, they go back the next day for an overnight lockdown.
And that’s where Harland Manor pushed its credibility a bit too hard even for me. Almost from the start, you can guess Jeanie is involved with one of the guys. And as easily guess which, although they try to hide it. As it turns out, the night before they’re to be locked in a haunted abortion clinic, she miscarries. And rather than go to the hospital, or just think that may not be the best place for her mental health right now, she goes and takes part in the show. After that, believing in ghosts comes easy.
Despite Monroe having directed the remake of I Spit on Your Grave and its first sequel, Harland Manor is almost totally devoid of gore and is almost over before it gets any more violent than two of the Spirit Chasers fighting. Neither is there any sex nor nudity. The filmmakers were going for an old-school, mood-driven ghost story, and they miss badly.
We get endless walking around dark corridors, occasionally in the familiar green tint of night vision. Equipment that malfunctions at the most inconvenient of moments, and doors lock by themselves. All of it is filmed so dully that it has no effect, even the couple of jump scares they throw in are weak. Even the ending is one you can see coming a mile away. It makes the first half-hour actually look good by comparison.
Harland Manor is available on Tubi in countries where the service is available. I’m sure it will turn up on streaming platforms elsewhere soon, if it hasn’t already.