Cinema Review: The Lodgers | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
Thursday, June 1st, 2023  

The Lodgers

Studio: Epic Pictures
Directed by Brian O'Malley

Feb 23, 2018 Web Exclusive
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Nursery rhymes are good for exactly two things: calming a fussy infant, and raising the creep factor in a horror film. The Lodgers lays out the rules of its world as the opening credits roll in just such a freaky bit of sing-song. A female voice melodically coos three guidelines that the teenage, orphaned twins Rachel and Edward must follow as they live in their crumbling mansion: be in bed by midnight, don’t let a stranger into the house, and never leave one another alone. Disobey, and they’ll be punished by the dead things that inhabit an aquatic tomb under their house.

Taking place in Ireland in the wake of WWI, The Lodgers is a classic sort of Gothic horror tale, one in which the setting – the movie was filmed in Loftus Hall, a real-world paranormal hotspot – plays as big a role in the film as the ghosts themselves. Director Brian O’Malley (Let Us Prey) does a wonderful job of turning a creaky, dusty old manor into a place where terrors seem to hide in every dark corner. The Lodgers leans heavily on its creepy atmosphere, which doesn’t quite make up for its crawling pace. The film takes far too much time answering any questions about just what the monsters are and why the kids must follow their particularly strict rules, hoping the audience’s appetite for fright will be sated by a gloomy manor and flashes of unsettling imagery.

By avoiding telling the audience important details about its boogeymen for so long, The Lodgers leaves it up to a threadbare plot to keep viewers invested. Rachel (Charlotte Vega), on the cusp of a sexual awakening, falls for a young, disabled veteran, Sean (Game of Thrones’ Eugene Simon), which naturally raises issues with her brother, the beasts he hopes to keep from angering, and a few backwards-thinking townspeople. (Sean’s dual status as both a hero and a traitor for fighting for the English army during Ireland’s revolutionary period is a little-seen POV that could be interesting to American viewers.) When the twins’ trust fund runs dry, it means that the family’s lawyer (David Bradley, also of Game of Thrones) will pay them a visit, and must be kept out of the house at all costs.

The Lodgers’ ominous tone is handled masterfully, and the house itself is incredibly spooky, but the story takes far too long to tell what little there is to it. It’s a shame, as the Gothic Horror genre is so underserved, and The Lodgers had solid potential to be a sleeper hit.


Author rating: 5/10

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