The Lodgers from 2017 is an Irish Gothic horror film by David Turpin and Brian O’Malley. It stars Charlotte Vega, Bill Milner and Eugne Simon.
If you like eerily dark and hauntingly beautiful movies like The Others or newer one like Crimson Peak, The Lodgers will be an obvious next escape to a haunted house through the television.
With it’s aesthetic like a classical Victoria Frances illustration the movie perfectly capture the dreamy and seductive pull gothic romance that made Jane Eyre and The Phantom of the Opera such iconic in all their formats. However it doesn’t quite capture the horror aspect of it as it seems to try like The Woman in Black and The Orphanage did.
1920, rural Ireland. Anglo-Irish twins Rachel (Charlotte Vega) and Edward (Bill Milner) share an isolated existence in their crumbling family estate. Each nighttime, the property becomes the domain of sinister watery presences (“the lodgers”) which enforce three rules upon the twins: they must be in bed by midnight; they may not permit an outsider past the threshold; if one attempts to escape, the life of the other is placed in jeopardy. They are reminded of these rules by way of a nursery rhyme: “Girl child, boy child, listen well. Be in bed by midnight’s bell. Never let a stranger through your door. Never leave each other all alone. Good sister, good brother be, follow well these cautions three. Long as your blood be ours alone, we’ll see you ever from below.” A curse lies upon their family. A “stain” that is passed on from one generation to the next. Each generation bears incestuous twins, breeding the next generation before taking their lives by drowning. When Rachel and Edward’s eighteenth birthday comes, Rachel wishes to leave with Edward, and in doing so hopefully leave the family curse behind. Edward, due to the trauma of his parents’ suicide and the legacy they left him and his sister, has become a recluse and refuses to leave. Tensions rise when troubled war veteran Sean (Eugene Simon) returns to the nearby village. He is immediately drawn to the mysterious Rachel, who in turn sees in Sean a chance for freedom and so begins to break the rules set out by the lodgers. The consequences pull Rachel into a deadly confrontation with her brother — and with the curse that haunts them.From Wikipedia
So this is one of those movies that will not be everybody’s cup of tea. And if you like your movies straightforward and well explained, look away! This is a movie you will want to ponder and google extensively after it’s final scene.
The basic storyline can remind a lot of the classic “the Fall of the House of Usher” from Edgar Allan Poe in it’s depicting of family, madness, incest and a big crumbling house. So much likeness in fact, that I have a feeling true Poe fans are able to guess a lot of the movie and it’s intention.
There is also the twins with a fate to be together as they are the only members of the family and an ominous looking lake outside the house that connect these two stories.
Twin incest has often been a metaphor of a sickly family. And as the movie follows the gothic rules so to speak, it would be wrong to look past it. As with a lot of twincest (Game of Thrones being only a modern example of a millennial old trope), it speaks greatly of a family and minds crumbling from within. It is a generation trait, of abuse, lack of love and affection, shame and secrets.
The family curse as Edward and Rachel puts it, is them being destined to do as their ancestors has done, bring forth a new pair of twins and drown themselves in the lake as the shame takes over them.
Why would you ask? Well, Edward gives a hint in the big confrontation when he tells Rachel that she will “learn to see it their way soon”. He speaks about immortality and how they have to do this to fullfill this part of the curse.
It can be a metaphor of what people are capable of doing to stay above normal people. A grasp for power and something more than just an average life. Even if that will have a horrible effect on the generations to come, that both have the shame of their ancestors and pressure to withhold the family name as the ones that came before. A ripple effect as the imagery hints at throughout the movie. Do as they did before sort of thing.
So the next generation do as they are told, follows the rules and uphold the appearance, not letting anybody else see their weakness. Meanwhile the house is croumbling from withing. From mould, from hauntings, deacaying like the minds of the remains of the family.
I also have a feeling that the Irish War of Independence has a bigger meaning than the movie lets on with. Several times it is stated that the twins are in fact, not Irish, but English at heart. They just live there. They also speak in a British accent, differing them from the village people. It must also have this deeper meaning speaking of the Irish heart that Sean just came back from the war, and that Rachel basically just sacrifices him to get her free pass into the Irish countryside as a free woman. It is not unheard of gothic romance speaking to this matter in a small whisper. With some laying claims that the novella Carmilla also have some Irish versus British undertones.
I wouldn’t exactly call it a rip-off as the Lodgers takes these well established tropes and formula to it’s own. They try mid way to do a full on horror flick of the story, where it fell short for a lot of people. It’s strength is in the strong imagery as a homage to the genre it’s born out of.
The ending is far less tragic. Rachel breaks free from the family curse, escaping from her destiny on her own. Only a black crow follows her, like the last stain from the family she comes from. It’s there, but not defining. But also it will always be a shadow, lurking just behind her footsteps.