Charlotte Vega, Bill Milner, Eugene Simon, David Bradley, Deirdre O'Kane, Moe Dunford, Roisin Murphy
Directed by Brian O'Malley
Gothic horror films excel at setting the right atmosphere to disseminate chills to moviegoers seeking a good fright. The best examples include The Innocents with Deborah Karr, Robert Wise’s The Haunting, Alejandro Amenábar’s The Others with Nicole Kidman, and more recently Crimson Peak from The Shape of Water director Guillermo del Toro. What’s the first thing you think of when you see an old mansion? Ghosts, right? They just go together like peanut butter and jelly.
Irish filmmaker Brian O’Malley follows up his supernatural debut Let Us Prey with the story of orphaned twins Rachel (Charlotte Vega) and Edward (Bill Milner) on the cusp of their 18th birthday. The pair live in solitude in the decrepit stately home of their ancestors who still roam the halls after midnight. Visitors are not allowed, and the twins must remain together in the home as punishment for the sins committed by their forefathers. There is a long history of immorality in the family that dates back several generations which explains the hauntings that take place each evening.
Rachel leaves the home on occasion to head into the local village for food and supplies where she is shunned by the residents or harassed by a group of men who have nothing better to do than chase women and intimidate the store owner’s son Sean (Game of Throne’s Eugene Simon), a soldier who just returned from fighting in WWI where he lost a leg. Romance enters the narrative as Sean begins to secretly follow Rachel through the woods in defiance of his mother who warned him to stay away from the mysterious young woman.
Edward is less adventurous than his sister and never steps foot out of the mansion. He lives in a constant state of fear while serving as the home’s timekeeper to make sure that he and his sister are locked in their rooms before midnight at which time an outflow of water begins to seep out of the basement door followed by the ghostly inhabitants that occupy the mansion until sunrise. Water plays an important role in the film both in the home and out where many deaths have occurred at the lake on the property.
The film also features an appearance by the wonderful English actor David Bradley from the Harry Potter films and HBO’s Game of Thrones. He plays the family’s solicitor Mr. Bermingham who pays a visit to the siblings informing them that the money has run out and the must sell the decrepit manor. This doesn’t sit well with the twins especially Edward who is already on the edge.
Written by musician-turned-screenwriter David Turpin who took a break from music to complete his Ph.D. in English Literature, the narrative is well structured and uncomplicated. You may be left with a few questions regarding the family’s backstory which is only explained to a certain degree.
The cast is exceptional. Charlotte Vega whose mother is British and father Spanish delivers a solid performance as Rachel. Her mild English accent sounds natural, so I was surprised when I found out she’s appeared in several Spanish television shows. English actor Bill Miner, who reminds me of a young Domhnall Gleeson, has appeared in X-Men: First Class and most recently in Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk. His performance as Edward is one of the film’s highlights.
"The Lodgers" is a good Irish ghost story that doesn’t rely on loud music stabs and objects popping out of the darkness to elicit a jump. The film’s chilling atmosphere is provided by Loftus Hall, the large mansion located Wexford, Ireland that provides the backdrop for the story. Built in 1350 and renovated in the 1870s, the home carries the designation “most haunted house in Ireland” and is said to have been haunted by the ghost of a young woman and the devil.
Opens Friday 02/23 at the Galaxy Highland 10 (Austin) and VOD.