New Horror Releases: The Lodgers (2018) Reviewed

This atmospheric Irish film captures the essence of the secondary element of all horror perfectly – that of dread. Along with some haunting scenery shot exquisitely in almost monotone blues, it mirrors the 1920’s era the film is set in. As a resident of Ireland myself, I was whimsically elated to see the legendary Loftus Hall (reputed to be one of the most haunted houses in Ireland) in all her decrepit glory, as the location for the house in the story.

Although the first few minutes already scream House of Usher, I was drawn into the engaging acting of lead actors Charlotte Vega and Bill Milner, portraying twins who are somehow doomed by something that only unfolds gradually throughout the film. The pace is slow, but deliberate, touching only lightly on the circumstances of a love story subplot, before punching with sporadic scares to remind us why we love the term ‘Gothic’.

The story by David Turpin burns heavily on the flavors or Edgar Allan Poe and M.R. James, although it was apparently based on his own personal childhood notions of negotiating with a supernatural force that lived in a house. Using water as a principal feature (a mysterious pond and the flooding basement of the house) throughout the movie, only heightens the surreal and terrifying beauty of imminent doom for the twins.  

If we hold hands, things won't be quite as scary. 

Much of the interaction between the two main characters delivers the foundations of twin psychology. We are constantly confronted with the power play between the security of familiar hell and the pain of liberation and change, by which the twins are in conflict throughout the story. Eventually one awaits the climax of their relationship, which could go either way, with great anticipation while the impending deadline of the plot pushes the walls inward on the characters and viewers alike.

The film did not scare me as much as evoking a subconscious sense of misery and apprehension, but some scenes are delightfully creepy. I found the cinematography and score in perfect unison, both in instilling mood as well as timing. Writer Turpin is also involved in the capacity of musician here, lending a powerful score to the hair-raising suggestions of some scenes.

It is not just a horror film in the pure sense, but allows for several factors – psychology and social commentary – to color the substance of this story. As a lover of a good old ghost story, The Lodgers had my toes curling in pleasure, but if is it quick thrills and blood you are after, better reserve this one for a rainy day.


-Tash Danzig