Frances Winston reviews this latest Irish gothic horror movie
Directed by: Brian O’Malley – Starring: Charlotte Vega, Bill Milner, Eugene Simon, David Bradley, Deirdre O’Kane, Moe Dunford, Róisín Murphy
Just in case the dark, foreboding poster hadn’t given it away, this is a gothic horror. That is something that Ireland does quite well, and the good old haunted-house genre is usually a pretty safe bet to provide enough scares to satiate even the most hardcore horror fan.
This actually couldn’t be more gothic if it tried. It is working desperately hard to tick all the boxes. Beautiful ingénue in floaty nightgowns – check. Dark and imposing creepy old house – check. Grey, foggy and overcast weather – check. A dashing, but flawed, hero – check. Suspicious villagers who don’t trust outsiders – check.
It is a mystery then why they also decided to throw the Irish War of Independence into the mix. It brings nothing to the story, and at times distracts from it, and you could easily remove all references to it without it making a difference.
At the crux of the story are Anglo-Irish twin siblings, Rachel (Vega) and Edward (Milner) who occupy the aforementioned dark and imposing manor-house. They live under a strange and restrictive curse, that bans them from welcoming strangers into the house, and forces them to be in bed by midnight or face consequences.
However, when World War I soldier, Sean, returns to the area, Rachel’s interest is piqued, and as she tries to find a way to escape her fate to be with him, both Edward and the spirits that curse them are far from happy.
This positively reeks of atmosphere. The stifling sensation experienced by Rachel and Edward drips from the screen, thanks to some fantastic cinematography. Equally, the sound editing is brilliant, and there are plenty of strange noises, and creaks, and bangs to give you’re a start.
What lets this down is the script. As I said, the fact it is set during the War of Independence is totally irrelevant, and detracts from the tale. At its heart, the story has a great premise, and there is a very disturbing reason why the twins are cursed. This, coupled with the dynamic between Sean and Rachel, would have worked perfectly well without any of the additional subplots. Also, some of the language is quite stilted and feels unnatural, even within the shabby grandeur portrayed here.
The Lodgers is a good film. But it could have been a great film. It has moments where it simply soars, and others where it falls completely flat.
If you are a fan of the genre, you will find it enjoyable enough, but it is far from a modern gothic classic, and although it may give you a few chills at the time, it won’t creep you out enough to sleep with the lights on.
In Cinemas Now!