Lodgers, The (TIFF 2017)

Starring Charlotte Vega, Bill Milner, Eugene Simon, David Bradley

Directed by Brian O’Malley


Set against a backdrop of a nation that only just found its independence, The Lodgers is a gothic supernatural horror/drama that follows twin siblings Edward and Rachel as they enter their 18th year, transitioning from childhood to adults. Faced with the reality of bankruptcy while abiding by the rules of their parents so as to stave off mysterious ghostly inhabitants, their relationship strains as Rachel attempts to break free from a life of fear and entrapment while Edward clings to their ways, dreading the consequences for doing otherwise. As their family’s shame bears down upon them, the terror only mounts with each passing day.

Edward, played by Bill Milner, is a pale and gaunt specter, pained by sunlight and terrified of stepping outside the ancestral home while Rachel (Charlotte Vega) is the rebellious one, claiming that they are innocent of their parents’ sins and, as such, should not have to suffer for their wrongs. Both performances are wonderfully portrayed, although the film focuses far more on Rachel than Edward, leaving the latter little to work with. Eugene Simon portrays Sean, a local villager who has returned from World War I an amputee. He also plays his role with nuance and responsibility but his character is little more than a lovestruck guardian to Rachel, making him feel slightly one-dimensional.

What makes The Lodgers so special is that the film never strays away from its poetic presentation. There is no extravagant CGI visual assault in the climax, there are no forced twists or turns, there is only the story of finding one’s self from a history of pain, much like the history of the setting of the film. The focus here is on atmosphere and story, which this movie oozes and drips with aplenty. This results in a movie that is a love letter to films like The Woman in Black, The Innocents, Rebecca, and other titles of similar ilk.

Director Brian O’Malley constructs each scene with the utmost of care, ensuring that there is never a failure to blend beauty and the macabre. For example, a rare moment when Rachel wears white – and appears almost angelic – sees her eating blackberries off vines that grow from family graves or when she convinces Sean to remove his wooden leg so that she may gently, sensually caress his nonexistent limb. This strange and uncomfortable marriage results in a surreal experience that leaves viewers unable to find comfort and yet, at the same time, able to feel perfectly at ease with the world they’re witnessing.

Delicately crafted, The Lodgers is a richly woven tapestry of classically inspired gothic horror. Smart, scary, and undeniably beautiful, it will no doubt be considered one of the pinnacles of its genre.


What Others Are Saying:

ComingSoon.net called The Lodgers “…the best movie of its kind since The Others
Hollywood Reporter said the film is “Finely attuned filmmaking
The Film Stage thought The Lodgers is “…a beautiful gothic horror that doesn’t resonate


The Lodgers is an Epic Pictures Group production. That being said, they had no impact on this review and were insistent that it be 100% truthful.

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Jonathan Barkan

Lifelong horror fan with a love of music on the side.

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