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film criticism by maryann johanson | since 1997

The Lodgers movie review: home is where the haunting is

The Lodgers red light

MaryAnn’s quick take…

Cursed twins who speak in faux-byronic enigmas, a crumbling manse full of dead birds and velvet drapes, and strained psychosexual nonsense. There’s nothing eerie here, just the puerile and misjudged.tweet
I’m “biast” (pro): nothing
I’m “biast” (con): nothing
(what is this about? see my critic’s minifesto)
women’s participation in this film
male director, male screenwriter, female coprotagonist
(learn more about this)

It’s her from up at the big house,” they sneer at the grocery in the village. The year is 1920-ish, the setting is rural Ireland, “her” is Rachel (Charlotte Vega: American Assassin), and the big house is the crumbling manse she lives in — if you can call it living dum dum DUM — with her twin brother, Edward (Bill Milner: Dunkirk). The house is all dead birds and velvet drapes — very goth, much spook — and there the cursed twins speak in faux-byronic enigmas: “How could something so cruel ever come from love?” “If I lied and said it was beautiful, would it make any difference?” “All I have here is death.” The spirits who live in the house and occasionally hover naked over the lake (or maybe those are different spirits?) dictate the rules by which the siblings must live: Don’t let anyone else in the house. Be in bed by midnight. Stay by each other’s side. Rachel’s supernatural leash extends to the village, though, it seems — Edward never leaves the house — which is where she meets wounded Great War vet Sean (Eugene Simon: Game of Thrones), and suddenly she is desirous of male company beyond her brother. Edward is not happy about this… and neither are the spirits.

David Turpin’s screenplay, his debut, is a load of strained psychosexual nonsense, which director Brian O’Malley (with his second feature) turns atmospheric only in the broadest way: the desperate visual clichés invoking decay and death land with the tedious thuds of those of a Halloween funhouse. There’s nothing eerie or sinister here, and even the aspects of the tale meant to be shocking barely rise to the level of accidentally repellent. What is meant, I suspect, to be sophisticated horror with a historically aware perspective on class and colonialism — the twins are Anglo-Irish, of the occupying English aristocracy, and are paying for the crimes of their ancestors, perhaps — is puerile and misjudged. The only thing haunting about The Lodgers is how derivative and meaningless it all is.

Click here for my ranking of this and 2018’s other releases.

red light 1.5 stars

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The Lodgers (2018) | directed by Brian O’Malley
US/Can release: Feb 23 2018 (VOD same day)
UK/Ire release: direct to DVD

MPAA: rated R for some violence, sexuality and nudity
BBFC: rated 15 (strong threat, violence)

viewed at home on PR-supplied physical media or screening link

official site | IMDb | trailer
more reviews: Movie Review Query Engine | Rotten Tomatoes

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