International Weirdness : “The House On Mansfield Street”

Posted: August 31, 2018 in movies
Tags: , , , , , , ,

Call me a glutton for punishment if you must, but the rather “blah” feeling that the latest installment in Nigel Bach’s Bad Ben series left me with got the wheels in what passes for my “mind” spinning — “these one-man ‘found footage’ horrors, they’re a tricky thing to pull off,” I thought to myself, “and Bach, who’s had what passes for ‘success’ with this sort of thing, well, he must have spawned some imitators, right? I mean, theoretically at least, anybody with a camera of any sort, even just an iPhone, can do what he’s done (not that they should, mind you), but has anyone else actually given it a shot? I guess if there’s one place I could find similar productions, it would have to be Amazon Prime, would it not? So — do they have anything remotely similar?”

Okay, so my thoughts weren’t that well-organized or succinctly-stated, nevertheless — I got that proverbial “wild hair” to find the closest thing to a non-Bach-made Bad Ben that I could, and what did I come up with? Well — nothing too terribly similar, as it turns out.

Mind you, it was late at night and I wasn’t feeling that ambitious, so I simply followed Amazon’s “People Who Watched This Also Watched —” suggestions, and where they led me was to British writer/director/producer’s 2018 “mockumentary” opus The House On Mansfield Street. Yeah, I figure I know where he got the name for his fictitious street, too, but the name Richard Mansfield, it rang a bell — and sure enough, I had seen (and reviewed) one of his 2017 flicks (I say “one of” because he made a few, actually), The Demonic Tapes. It didn’t do much for me, truth be told, but what the hell? I figured I’d see if his filmmaking skills have improved, and when I read on IMDB that this one was made for just 300 pounds (current exchange rates put that right around $394 in US currency), I was more than curious to do what I do so often, namely : seeing how much an enterprising auteur can do with so little.

Not to give away too much too early on (whoops), but as you’d probably expect with resources this limited (it was primarily shot in one house, apart from an opening sequence in a car), results are mixed : Mansfield’s ostensible “star,” amateur filmmaker Nick Greene (more-than-competently portrayed by Matthew Hunt) is documenting his move from London to an unnamed smaller town, but things go wonky in his new spread pretty much right off the bat, the stereotypical inexplicable noises graduating to the stereotypical moving objects graduating to — the stereotypical bigger, more serious shit. If this sounds more Paranormal Activity than it does Bad Ben, you’re not too far off the mark, and the constant “night-vision” camera work certainly reinforces that notion. Mansfield’s cinematography is more accomplished than usual for productions of this sort, though, so even though this flick’s pacing is slow bordering on the glacial, it generally remains at least watchable throughout, thanks mainly to its solid technical execution and the likability of its protagonist.

Another big difference between this and at least two of the Bad Ben movies : this isn’t strictly a “solo venture,” at least in front of the camera. Actors Daniel Mansfield (who I assume to be Richard’s brother) and Kathryn Redwood have small but semi-significant parts as Jon and Emma, respectively, and each manage to make the most of limited screen time. Hunt is definitely a one-man act for 90-plus percent of the film, but he’s not, strictly speaking, the only presence on screen from start to finish.  To say nothing of the apparitions and all that, of course.

And speaking of “all that,” despite my rather curt dismissal of many of the shopworn “scare” elements on offer here, a good chunk of Mansfield’s screenplay actually leads audiences to believe that there is something entirely different going on in this house than the usual paranormal flick revolves around — really up until the very end, in fact, when things whiplash back to “bog standard” status seemingly out of nowhere. It’s a bit of a disappointing way to wrap up a story that had been flirting with something not wholly original, by any means, but at least unexpected, and the first nine-tenths of the film probably deserves better than what the final tenth gives it, but even still — The House On Mansfield Street is a more effective use of $394 than most of us (myself included) could manage, and Richard Mansfield has plenty to be proud of here. I’ll definitely be on the lookout for whatever he does next.

Comments
  1. Ryan C. (trashfilmguru) says:

    Reblogged this on Through the Shattered Lens.

  2. Mansfield Dark says:

    Hey Ryan, thanks for reviewing! Mansfield Street is a real street and most likely haunted (Probably based on true events). Daniel is my husband, I’ve yet to get my brother in a film but watch this space. I seem to remember you enjoyed the Demonic Tapes, there is already a Demonic Tapes 2 on Amazon if you’re interested. Thanks again!

    • Ryan C. (trashfilmguru) says:

      Thanks for noticing the review and commenting, as well as clearing up my errors/assumptions! You make a little got a long way with your films, and work at a prodigious rate! I will definitely be checking out more of your stuff!

      • Mansfield Dark says:

        Cheers Ryan! I also love the title ‘International Weirdness’ can I keep it?! Always enjoy your reviews too and hope you enjoy some of my other films.

      • Ryan C. (trashfilmguru) says:

        I use “International Weirdness” as my title for reviews for all obscure/lesser-seen films from outside the US. It’s kind of a semi-regular feature around here.

  3. johnrieber says:

    Again, kudos for showcasing micro-budgeted efforts that deserve attention!

  4. Scott says:

    Micro-budgets are always a joy to discover since they can be pretty awful, but the good ones are all the more enjoyable because you get to appreciate the passion and hard work a small group who have no formal experience can give.

    I watched this movie because it was the “up next” after Bad Ben 4. It was beautiful to look at, I liked the cottage, and the setting. The interactions between the lead guy and Emma seemed realistically awkward. Sometimes it did get a bit tedious though. Like seeing an event happening, but then the actor tells the camera exactly what we just saw right after we saw it.

    I think there could have been more frights regarding the “shape” so to speak. The idea that the camera shows something sinister in flickered images in your house and you can’t do anything about it is frightening, but I would have loved more time with that than hunting down tapping sound. Also if the movie would have ended just a few seconds sooner, I would have found it more unsettling. As in leaving a bit more ambiguous.

  5. ichabod crane says:

    The town is un-named but the bins with “Nottingham City Council” written on them, the statue of Robin Hood and Nottingham Castle are a bit of a giveaway. The left lion is a bit more of an obscure reference that mostly only locals would get – as it says in the film meeting at the left lion is a local tradition…I don’t know what the right lion (there is one) did to fall out of grace…
    Mansfield Street wasn’t far from where I grew up in Woodthorpe but I don’t claim to be familar with the house in question.
    SPOILER ALERT BELOW
    I thought the film was OK for the rather over done found footage genre, I liked the way the protagonist decides to, in effect, run away and get out of his lease and that they worked in the fire that did happen at Nottingham Station as the reason why he didn’t leave but you have to ask why he decided to stay one more night after finding a demonic bed ghost, shower sillouhette and demonic summoning parchment in the “good luck” charms gibven by the telegraphed antagonist – Nottingham might be smaller than London but it has no shortage of hotels, B&Bs and even some very low budget doss houses if he was skint. Personally you wouldn’t see me for dust if I’d seen the things he had….Ending was a bit lame but for the £300 budget it was certainly better than a lot of FF films I’ve seen.

    • Ryan C. (trashfilmguru) says:

      Thanks for the information, your assessment of the film seems a pretty fair one to me.

      • Ichabod Crane says:

        Cheers Ryan. To be honest I find most found footage made with some sort of bigger budget tedious or borderline comedy (case in point – The Amityville Haunting). Better ones that I enjoyed were Mungo Lake, the Triangle (the one in the desert not the one on the boat) and Savageland.

      • Ryan C. (trashfilmguru) says:

        I will look those up on your recommendation, as I also prefer the “micro-budget” ones by a healthy margin.

  6. Minty says:

    [[[[SPOILERS]]]]

    I did like the creepy scares since a fear of mine is having someone being in my house without me knowing, but I just got so upset that the protag REFUSES TO CALL THE POLICE or LEAVE. He’s not in the middle of nowhere, he’s in a neighborhood near a town that’s not completely snowed in constantly. After that first day, I’d rather live on the street…

    It’s not just stuff being moved around or weird glitches on the camera. Near the START of the movie, there is PHYSICAL EVIDENCE that someone is messing with him! (the harddrive, the bed, the curtain sillouette, ect) Especially the harddrive! Something put a video OF THAT DAY of HIM on HIS COMPUTER while he was outside his LOCKED HOUSE, and that’s just mysterious? Cripes, I wanted to strangle him.

    Like, he’s paranoid to get night vision, noise-triggered and motion sensor cameras, but won’t call the police? The cameras provide clear evidence someone/something is messing with him, yet he does no serious investigating and just gets scared and says it’s ‘mysterious’. Even if it wasn’t a ghost thing, I would believe that a person was actually stalking him.

    Guh, rant aside, I enjoyed the other aspects well enough, as I was entertained by the creepy things, and I do forgive it somewhat because it’s a small production and the acting was fine… But the protag’s lack of reasoning was so frustrating. But that’s just a big personal nitpick of mine… If you don’t mind that, it’s somewhat entertaining. But I got so frustrated I had to take a break 50 minutes in.

    • Ryan C. (trashfilmguru) says:

      I go into these micro-budget films not necessarily expecting much, when they’re able to do some things successfully with no money and resources, that’s always a good thing in my book.

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