The Lodgers – Ireland, 2017

‘We see you’

The Lodgers is a 2017 Irish gothic horror feature film directed by Brian O’Malley (Let Us Prey) from a screenplay by David Turpin (The Indecents) for Epic Pictures (Day of Reckoning). It stars David Bradley, Eugene Simon and Bill Milner.

1920, rural Ireland. Anglo Irish twins Rachel and Edward share a strange existence in their crumbling family estate.

Each night, the property becomes the domain of a sinister presence (The Lodgers) which enforces three rules upon the twins: they must be in bed by midnight; they may not permit an outsider past the threshold; if one attempts to escape, the life of the other is placed in jeopardy.

When troubled war veteran Sean returns to the nearby village, he is immediately drawn to the mysterious Rachel, who in turn begins to break the rules set out by The Lodgers. The consequences pull Rachel into a deadly confrontation with her brother – and with the curse that haunts them…

Reviews:

“A fine gothic ghost story with a terrific sense of atmosphere, The Lodgers benefits from excellent performances, beautiful and often clever photography, an intelligent script (by David Turpin) and assured direction by Brian O’Malley […] well worth a watch if you’re a fan of subtle, understated but deliciously creative ghost stories.” John Llewellyn Probert, House of Mortal Cinema

“Layering in typically Gothic elements from Turpin’s script, O’Malley intentionally blurs the boundaries between reality and subjective perception, creating uncertainty about the characters’ mental state and the magnitude of the threats they face. While the Loftus Hall location provides the preponderance of the film’s creepy atmospherics, O’Malley capitalizes on the setting with moody blue-grey lighting and nimble camerawork…” Justin Lowe, The Hollywood Reporter

“Shot in an Irish mansion that’s allegedly haunted, O’Malley’s use of the location is one of the film’s greatest strengths, and Vega is a captivating lead. The problem with The Lodgers comes down to thinness of concept and character. I just never quite cared about the twins or their predicament in way that would make the final act resonate.” Brian Tallerico, RogerEbert.com

“The lugubrious tone, studded with murky references to Edgar Allan Poe and shaded with forbidden sexual longing, may strike some as a little tiresome. But the set design is amazing. The crew shot at Loftus Hall, an Irish mansion with a thousand years of history in its bones […] The story also gets much mileage from its performances.” Chris Knight, National Post

The Lodgers is never particularly scary, or even logical, but it’s always gorgeous to look at; you can see where it’s going, but you might not mind watching it go there. And if it leaves you wondering where to buy a similar (but presumably not cursed) locket, well … movies can move us in many ways, not all of them mysterious.” Moira McDonald, The Seattle Times

“This is the kind of horror movie that’s much more about how it feels than anything that actually happens in the film, so those looking for jump scares or big payoffs are likely to come away disappointed. Even as Gothic horror goes, The Lodgers is more Bronte than Bava.” Patrick Bromley, Daily Dead

“Brian O’Malley’s direction can’t pull together a Gothic tale that was really only half-constructed to begin with. Confusing vagueness with subtlety, substituting atmosphere for excitement, it ends up feeling only like a bland and bloodless Crimson Peak, somewhat slight and wholly unsatisfactory. The spirits are willing, but the film is weak.” Stephen Whitty, Film Journal

“O’Malley gives us some classic scares in The Lodgers, along with a heroine worth rooting for and a gothic house as world-weary as it is frightening. While the intent of the fearsome creatures is a little on-the-nose, the atmosphere created is creepy enough to get deep under your skin.” Shelagh Rowan-Legg, Screen Anarchy

“A palpable weight hangs over The Lodgers. It’s there in the lush brocade canopy above the twins’ parents’ bed, the storm clouds pregnant with rain, the sometimes oppressive piano score, and the humorless, ponderously self-important dialogue. Even the makeup can be heavy-handed, as the Lodgers’ creeping takeover of Edward’s soul also includes quite a bit of contouring for that Tim Burton-esque “living corpse” look.” Katie Rife, A.V. Club

” …for viewers who take it more as a moody, metaphorical historical drama than as an out-and-out horror film, there’s a lot in this lush-looking, sensitively acted picture to recommend […] Until its suspenseful final 15 minutes, The Lodgers is frustratingly stingy with the scares, mostly limiting the spooky stuff to creaky noises and the recurring image of water dripping upward.” Noel Murray, Los Angeles Times

“Mystery is present, along with Hammer-style gothic environments and numerous threats to the safety of the lead characters, and once “The Lodgers” finally gets going, there’s much to appreciate dramatically and cinematically. It just requires more patience than usual to make it through the feature’s scattered, glacial introductions.” Brian Orndorf, Blu-ray.com

“Although the atmospheric film generally sidesteps genre clichés, some lush period imagery and expressive performances by the young leads can’t compensate for a gloomy and pretentious screenplay that lacks sufficient narrative momentum to generate emotional investment.” Todd Jorgenson, Cinemalogue

“Working with an uneven cast and an undercooked story, Mr. O’Malley hits the horror beats just fine (slam, creak, squeak) without putting a sinister spin on the assorted strange doings. For all the genre exertions, none of this feels the least bit spooky, including the digital ghouls that float in and the cobwebs that look as if they originated in a spray can.” Manohla Dargis, The New York Times

“The real stars here, handled with loving care by O’Malley, are Richard Kendrick’s gorgeous widescreen lensing and Joe Fallower’s superbly detailed production design. Both make use of exquisite locations primarily in County Wexford, notably the storied, purportedly haunted Loftus Hall (which celebrated its 666th year last annum).” Dennis Harvey, Variety

“Combined with uncomfortable implications, confused editing that jumps to parallel plots at inopportune intervals, and secondary roles serving no useful purpose (Kay, anyone?), the movie makes for a rickety ride through a routine exercise in dull horror.  Undeniably sleek style aside, The Lodgers at least never truly loses you, only because it never has you to begin with.” Ian Sedensky, Culture Crypt

In the UK, The Lodgers was issued on DVD on 25 June 2018 by Thunderbird Releasing.

Buy DVD: Amazon.co.uk

Includes 22 minute Making of featurette, deleted scenes and a trailer

Reviews:

Main cast:

  • David Bradley – The World’s End; Hot Fuzz; Sweeney Todd
  • Eugene Simon
  • Bill Milner – X-Men: First Class
  • Moe Dunford – The Hidden
  • Charlotte Vega – [REC] 3: Genesis
  • Deirdre O’Kane – The Messenger; Boy Eats Girl
  • Roisin Murphy – Roadkill

Release:

The Lodgers had its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) on September 8, 2017. At the time of writing, it is available on Netflix.

Trivia:

The film was shot in Loftus Hall in Wexford, allegedly one of the most haunted places in Ireland.

 

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