‘The Lodgers’ (2018) Review: As Fate Would Have It

Brian O’Malley’s The Lodgers bleeds luscious Gothic beauty from its first frame to its last. O’Malley, intact with an old-school style of genre film-making, has, above all, crafted a ghostly tale that, in regard to its aesthetic, feels like a classic horror film in a modern era. It’s gorgeous, ghostly, and… well, kind of good.

Set in rural Ireland in the year of 1920, the film tells the story of twins Rachel (Charlotte Vega) and Edward (Bill Milner), who live alone in their once-lavish family estate. Forced to honor the rules of a centuries-old family curse so as not to aggravate the sinister presence within their home, the twins have failed to carve  their own path in life. Edward, who’s only a few minutes younger than his sister, is content with the fate that has been bestowed upon himself and his sibling. His very existence is dominated by fear, so he feels as though they should just accept the lives they’ve been handed and manage their years together with a faux happiness. Rachel, on the other hand, is burdened by aspiration. She cannot simply live out the blueprint in which the spirits would have her adhere to. When she becomes smitten by a troubled, young war veteran from a nearby village, Rachel begins to break the rules- causing a rift between herself and Edward, and stirring up a supernatural danger within their home.

the lodgers

The Lodgers presents a fascinating plot, complete with dialogue and an undercurrent of romanticism reminiscent of classic literature and poetry, but unlike the impressive set design and directorial craftiness, the film fails to execute the story in a particularly memorable manner. The story unfolds at a deliberate pace, which is to be expected in a film such as this, but that pacing isn’t balanced with the requisite amount of suspense to fully demand attention. Taken as a period piece, O’Malley’s film is no less than commendable. It boasts strong direction and performances across the board. In the moments that aim to frighten, however, viewers will likely find themselves shrugging off each lackluster and unoriginal attempt at terror.

You’ll notice, too, that certain characters seem to exist without proper reason. There’s a scruffy, bully-ish lad who continues to stir up trouble with his goons, but their motivation is glossed-over at best, and they serve no purpose in the story other than to drive Rachel back into her home for the final act of the film. The family of Rachel’s love interest, also, appear to exist solely for a moment of “twisty” exposition before the climactic finale.

It’s quite the shame that, with the film’s message of carving your own path and managing your own fate, The Lodgers ultimately fails to follow its own advice. For its direction, performances, and the gorgeousness of its Gothic aesthetic, the film remains recommendable for fans of old-school ghost stories. Those looking for something a bit more exciting, however, are better served elsewhere.

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About Captain Howdy

Movies are my air. You can find me writing about them, specifically my adoration of the horror genre, in various places, such as: 1.) The white tile floors of abandoned Kmart buildings across America 2.) The back of Taco Bell receipts when cashiers ask me to take the online survey 3.) Your mom's diary

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