Irish cinema truly is on the up and up with Brian O’Malley’s latest film, The Lodgers, a welcome addition to the modern horror genre. While the horror comedy sub genre has become a mainstay in Hollywood cinema with the likes of Tragedy Girls and It, the truly disturbing horror film seemed to be a thing of the distant past.
Enter The Lodgers. The debut screenplay from David Turpin set in the early twentieth century recaptures that sense of sheer inescapable dread that horrors of late have been lacking. Inspired by Gothic literature from Turpin’s youth, The Lodgers begins with a haunting nursery rhyme that sets the tone for the entire film.
Rachel, a teenage girl (played by Charlotte Vega) and her twin brother Edward (Bill Milner) live in a derelict mansion, their actions governed by a family curse which stops them from connecting with anybody outside their estate. As the twins’ relationship unfolds, the absence of the children’s parents becomes more and more apparent, something that is central to the curse that restricts their lives.
Watching the opening you could be forgiven for thinking the film was set somewhere in England. However, the Irish location becomes apparent when Vega’s character visits the local village, bumping into some local ne’er dowels and Sean (Eugene Simon), a wounded Irish soldier recently returned from the British Army who manages to stir up tensions between Rachel and the ruffians.
What the film might lack in frights, it makes up for in a brooding, measured portrayal of the supernatural oppression that the twins face. Rachel and her brother are forced to live under the stifling rules imposed by their ancestors, or risk invoking their anger – something anyone who grew up in Catholic Ireland can surely relate to! Rachel’s desperation to be free of rules that hold her from back from being true to herself will also resonate with any LGBTs who grew up while the Catholic Church dominated personal lives.
Turpin’s love of the gothic shines through in the film, and is realised expertly through the cinematography, a haunting score and most noticeably the film’s primary location, the siblings’ crumbling home. A stand-out performance from Vega and a sustained sense of foreboding that other films in the genre have failed to maintain make The Lodgers a must-see piece of Irish cinema!
The Lodgers is in cinemas March 9
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