The Irish have beer-guzzling leprechauns, four-leaf clovers, beautiful, lush green landscapes, and they know quite a thing or two about crafting a truly beautiful and haunting tale. Therefore, the Drama/Horror/Romance blend of The Lodgers – which arrives in theaters as well as digital platforms on Friday, February 23, 2018, thanks to Epic Pictures, Tailored Films, and the Irish Film Board – is guaranteed to be absolutely stunning!
In 1920s, rural Ireland, eighteen year-old twins Rachel (Charlotte Vega: The Refugees series, Velvet series) and Edward (Bill Milner: Son of Rambow 2007, X-Men: First Class 2011), born eleven-minutes apart, reside in a dilapidated yet palatial estate where they are seemingly raising themselves. Here, they live under three strict rules: be in bed by the midnight’s bell each evening, never let a stranger through the front door, and never ever leave one another alone. Despite the peeling wallpaper, broken windows, and cracked facade, inside these walls the twins are protected from the madness of the outside world by a haunting family curse.
Unfortunately, that outside world is literally at war, the Irish War of Independence, in fact, and many of the soldiers returning home are not always accepted with open arms by locals. Meet Sean (Eugene Simon: Ben Hur 2010, Game of Thrones series), who lost a leg in the war and has returned home to his mother (Deirdre O’Kane: Boy Eats Girl 2005, Moone Boy series), who runs the family’s namesake, corner store. Perpetually taunted by a group of neighborhood hoodlums who are headed up by Dessie (Moe Dunford: Patrick’s Day 2014, Vikings series), Sean is struggling to re-acclimate to civilian life when he spots a beautiful, young woman one morning and follows her into the woods.
While completing her weekly shopping trip, the pretty Rachel meets a handsome stranger and, almost at the same instant, discovers a bad turn of luck: the estate that has been in her family for two centuries now is in dire-straights, according to a letter sent by the estate’s manager, Bermingham (David Bradley: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone 2001, Doctor Who series). With her brother a recluse who won’t leave the house and their funds in the negative, Rachel will be forced to make some weighty decisions about her future. Although, eerily, no one knows if she and Edward even have the option to leave the home where their ghostly protectors lurk behind every wall. Who are these lodgers and can the twins break free of the walls that entrap them, or are they doomed to repeat the fates of their parents and all the generations that came before them?
Clocking in at 92 minutes in-length, The Lodgers was directed by Brian O’Malley (Screwback short 2004, Let Us Prey 2014) and written by first-time Film Drafter David Turpin. The film is billed as a combination of Drama, Horror, and Romance, and it is indeed all of these things and so very much more! A kind of Gothic Romanticism permeates the core of The Lodgers, which offers up solid elements of Horror, along with sensuality and Romance, and plenty of Drama to boot. The end result is a film that feels somewhat like a modern-day blend of 1987’s Flowers In the Attic and something much more dramatic and macabre, such as Tim Burton’s 1999 hit Sleepy Hollow. It is visually unlike both of these films, however, and falls somewhere more in-line with fellow 2017 Irish offering Without Name and the beautiful Welsh tale of The Passing.
The ensemble cast here are stellar in each of their roles, with Vega (as Rachel) and Milner (as Edward) receiving the majority of the screen-time. Milner is wonderfully awkward in his role as the tormented and confused, nervous and somewhat agoraphobic Edward. Vega, however, steals the show as the stunningly well-rounded Rachel, a beautiful young woman coming into her sexuality, seeking both adventure and love, refusing to sit complacent inside crumbling walls that now feel like a cage. In his role as the elderly Bermingham, Bradley is a wonderful conundrum of an old man, neither entirely friendly and warm, nor fully cruel and ominous; he is the perfect impetus for the twins’ forced change. As Rachel’s love interest, Simon does a wonderful job of playing the jaded former soldier, returned from war to face a new view of the world and to travel through that world with a handicap.
The Lodgers is an exquisitely shot, fine art, gothic-ly macabre film that is steeped in nature symbology – particularly that of the elements and animals – poetic in its telling, and wonderfully executed to create a haunting and engaging tale. In one scene, Rachel even recites Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Lake,” beside a picturesque, stunning waterscape. In fact, it is worthwhile noting that the stunning landscapes throughout The Lodgers come thanks to County Wexford in Southeastern Ireland where the film was shot on location.
All said, The Lodgers is truly a must-see film that offers a dark tale told through an exquisite, fine art approach; the scenery is stunning, the acting is superb, and the story is emotionally haunting. You cannot possibly ask much more from a film than The Lodgers delivers, and for this reason, we at CrypticRock are very in love and give The Lodgers 5 of 5 stars.