The Lodgers (2018)

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Director: Brian O’Malley

Starring: Charlotte Vega, David Bradley, Bill Milner

Review Author: Tony

As is a tradition with Reel Time every Halloween we will be dedicating the month of October exclusively to the horror genre to get in the spirit of the holiday. While we will do our best to catch as many new releases this month, we will instead prioritize reviews and write-ups on them towards the end of the month. We are kicking off this Halloween season with a look at the low budget Irish horror film The Lodgers.

Set during the 1920’s in rural Ireland, twins Rachel and Edward live in isolation in their decrepit family estate on the edge of town. Both are bound to the house by a family curse with a strict set of rules they must adhere to otherwise they place themselves in jeopardy. Rachel longs to leave the estate and clashes with her reclusive brother over her carelessness with the rules. When a young war veteran returns to town and takes an interest in Rachel she sees it as an opportunity to make her escape

The film opens with a strong sequence filled with tension, dread, and hints of the ethereal curse that haunts these twins which immediately caught my attention. The atmosphere is eerie and generally slowed placed in order to build a sense of a constant lurking presence. The set design of the house falling into disarray is fantastic and it’s up there with some of the best-haunted houses I’ve seen on the big screen (the actual house is one of Ireland’s supposed most haunted locations, Loftus Hall). The sound mixing also lends to the creepy tone with creaks, moans, and whispers echoing throughout.

Surprisingly well acted, The Lodgers uses its limited cast effectively and highlights the talents of these young actors. The tragedy throughout is only further heightened by the young age of the cast as all have suffered some form of trauma. The story isn’t without its faults or gaps in logic but kept me engaged with its interesting premise and a strong theme of legacy and fate throughout. It’s a unique ghost story focused on family and breaking tradition.

Frustratingly the film lacks the confidence to stay true to its eerie gothic tone and ties to infuse more traditional horror scares that cheapens the experience. This isn’t to say there aren’t some legitimate scares and the film definitely made me jump but the abundance of shoehorned jumpscares mostly left me rolling my eyes. The lack of originality in the scares was evident when I could predict moments like the ghost in the mirror reflection.

The Lodgers is a welcome entry to a pretty barren genre of horror. It’s catered specifically to horror fans who enjoy a gothic tale or slow burn creepy tone and will probably push away more thrill-seeking horror fans. It’s a really well put together low budget film with a few tricks up its sleeves with an adept cast of young actors.

Rating: 3.5 / 5 Jack-o’-lanterns

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