The Lodgers Film Review
By: Joseph Perry (@JosephWPerryJWP)
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Fans of classic gothic horror cinema such as The Others, The Woman in Black, The Innocents, and The Haunting will want to see director Brian O’Malley’s new Irish chiller The Lodgers. The sense of dread is palpable, and the atmospheric visuals are ominous and beautiful.
In early 20th century rural Ireland, orphaned fraternal twins Rachel (Charlotte Vega) and Edward (Bill Milner) live — exist might be a better word — in a mansion in which their ancestors dwelled. Their parents and grandparents all died by suicidal drowning on the family property, and the young adult children now stay on the estate by themselves, adhering to a strict code handed down by their parents. They must always be in bed by midnight, must never let strangers inside, and never abandon their home. Failure to follow these rules will result in a nightmarish situation.
Edward clings in despair to strictly following the code, but Rachel begins to waver on her feelings, especially when she meets Sean (Eugene Simon), a young World War I veteran who returned home missing part of a leg. Shunned by the locals and with insistent family attorney Bermingham (David Bradley) urging the siblings to sell their home because their inheritance has run out, tensions rise to a deadly degree, and supernatural entities make themselves known.
O’Malley tones down the horror from his previous outstanding shocker Let Us Prey (2014) to focus more on a brooding, gloomy mood piece than on jump scares or bloodshed. He accomplishes this well, and is aided wonderfully by Richard Kendrick’s top-notch cinematography and the gorgeously eerie Loftus Hall, a reportedly haunted mansion in southeastern Ireland that is nearly seven centuries old. David Turpin wrote the screenplay and scored the film, so it comes as no surprise that the haunting music fits the proceedings well. Though O’Malley’s direction is terrific, there are some story elements that are likely to leave some viewers puzzled.
The cast is superb, with Vega standing out in her role as coming-of-age Rachel, who questions whether there isn’t a better life outside of the family estate. Milner is solid as Edward, though his character is not developed quite as fully as Rachel’s.
Psychological terrors and taboo relationships are the strong meat of the film. The Lodgers should appeal to art-house horror aficionados and those who enjoy a good gothic mystery.
The Lodgers will be released in theaters and on digital platforms on February 23rd.
Joseph Perry is one of the hosts of When It Was Cool’s exclusive Uphill Both Ways podcast (whenitwascool.com/up-hill-both-ways-podcast/) and Gruesome Magazine’s Decades of Horror: The Classic Era podcast (decadesofhorror.com/category/classicera/).
He also writes for the retro pop culture website That’s Not Current (thatsnotcurrent.com), Diabolique Magazine (diaboliquemagazine.com), Scream Magazine (screamhorrormag.com), and several other print and online film critique and pop culture magazines.
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