A family curse confines orphaned twins Rachel (Charlotte Vega) and Edward (Bill Milner) to their home, in punishment for their ancestor’s sins. Bound to the rules of a haunting childhood lullaby, the twins must never let any outsiders inside the house, must be in their rooms by the chime of midnight, and must never be separated from one another. Breaking any of these rules will incur the wrath of a sinister presence that inhabits the house after midnight.
When Rachel meets Sean (Eugene Simon), a soldier that has recently returned home from the war, she quickly becomes enamored with the man and begins to challenge the rules that she and her brother have been forced to live by. The more she challenges the three rules, the angrier her staunch brother becomes, setting off a series of consequences that leads to a deadly confrontation with the sibling’s past.
Set in rural 1920s Ireland, Brian O’Malley’s follow up to Let Us Pray makes full use of the Loftus Hall, a very real and allegedly haunted house in Ireland. Despite a rather drab coloration, the use of the surrounding lakes and woods, as well as the advanced dilapidation of the house itself gives the film a vibrant, lifelike feel. Richard Kendrick’s cinematography adds to the film’s depth by use of fog, wide angles, and time-lapse photography. Essentially, the film encapsulates the majestic look of classic gothic cinema while also updating the aesthetic.
All good supernatural and gothic stories have a challenging mystery to unravel at its core and The Lodgers certainly holds its own. Deliberately slow paced, the film’s narrative follows a looser nightmare logic structure reminiscent of Lucio Fulci’s Gates of Hell trilogy, but certainly minus the bold violence of those films. The mysteries of the film are vaguely structured throughout the first few acts, but everything comes to a tight conclusion by the end. Strong performances from the three lead actors and sprinklings of horror imagery and tension keep the film chugging along, preparing you for an excellent finale. In the end, The Lodgers is a beautiful, captivating film that transcends its genre leanings and tells a story of freedom, poverty, and tradition.