A family curse confines orphaned twins Rachel and Edwards to their home, in punishment for their ancestors’ sins. Bound to the rules of a haunting childhood lullaby, the twins must never let any outsiders inside the house, must be in their rooms by the chime of midnight, and must never be separated from one another. Breaking any of these rules will incur the wrath of a sinister presence that inhabits the house after midnight.
I’m a huge fan of the classic gothic cinema such as The Woman in Black, The Others, Crimson Peak, The Haunting and The Innocents, to name a few, so needless to say, ‘The Lodgers’ film was right up my alley. It also reminded me a great deal of Penny Dreadful. There is an incredible sense of dread throughout, and the atmospheric visuals are ominous and beautiful. The set is stunning, the crumbling of the entire estate is gorgeous in its collapsing state, it permeates of lost grandeur. The lighting is nothing less than exquisite, filled with tones of grey that paint a realistic and bleak atmosphere. It’s dark folklore and old-fashioned family values.
The small brilliant cast is superb, with Vega shining in her role as a coming-of-age girl, whose only question is wanting to know if there’s more to life than being locked away in her dreary prison. Surely there more, a better life outside of her family estate. Milner on the other hand, although solid, his character is not developed quite as fully as Rachel’s seems to be.
The Lodgers is a dark and dreary story of twin siblings, a very sad and tragic family history, and of life, but, there are secret meanings behind what you see. The teens have been living in isolation since their parents suicide a few years ago. Their existence is made all the more complicated by the lodgers, an unseen force living under a trapdoor in their estate. In order to exist in harmony with these phantoms they must be in agreement, the two must follow three simple rules: be in bed by midnight, don’t let strangers across the threshold and never leave. However, for Rachel, these rules are becoming harder and harder to follow and eventually drive her into the arms of a local boy who recently returned from the war. Obviously, this does not sit well for her bother, he is none too pleased with this but, more importantly, neither are the lodgers.
Everything about the house lets you know that something evil is afoot. Filmed in Ireland’s most haunted house, Loftus Hall, it’s understandable why every inch of the screen drips with chills and overbearing shadows of a doomed past. It’s actually the most perfect location for a film such as this. I feel the music in horror movies becomes a major key and the composers here have created a sound that is just as perfect. There is just the right amount of suspense and chills offered up to us.
Richard Kendrick’s awesome camera movements and Tony Kearns’ editing is very effective, and even elevating the elements of the production design, such as the house and the menacing water, to the level of lively characters. The old, beautiful and broken mansion, with all its creaking noises and its huge wooden staircase, is allegedly a real-life haunted house, while the water the ghostly creatures live in, emerging from down below and rushing up to the ceiling in drops, looks impressive in CGI, making The Lodgers a must-see for fans of gothic horror cinema.
All in all, The Lodgers is an effective, gothic horror tale all around. There’s an ominous, vibe that swirls, slowly at first, until a crescendoing reveal in the third act. Because the film focuses on an evil grounded, at least partially, in reality, it’s infinitely more frightening than monsters alone. As such, The Lodgers isn’t as straight-up scary as it is effectively unsettling, and I’m perfectly happy with that. Don’t expect jump scares or vaults of blood, just embrace the moody, brooding, and gorgeously rendered movie that it is because it’s wickedly enjoyable.
Title: The Lodgers
Release Date: September 8, 2017
Runtime: 1 hour, 32 minutes
Genre: Horror, Mystery, Drama
Studio: Epic Pictures
Starring: Bill Milner, Charlotte Vega, David Bradley, Eugene Simon
MPAA Rated: R
Directors: Brian O’Malley
Reviewed by: Mad Hatter
Our Rating: 3.4 /5
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