1 July 2018

THUNDERBIRD RELEASING PRESENTS: THE LODGERS. (2017) A CLASSIC GHOST STORY REVIEWED BY SANDRA HARRIS.




THE LODGERS. (2017) DIRECTED BY BRIAN O'MALLEY. WRITTEN BY DAVID TURPIN.
STARRING CHARLOTTE VEGA, EUGENE SIMON, BILL MILNER, DAVID BRADLEY, DEIRDRE O'KANE, MOE DUNFORD AND ROISIN MURPHY.
REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS.

I was really excited to be watching this, as the Irish horror film business doesn't seem to churn out as much product as its American or British contemporaries. We have such great scope for making horror films here in Ireland as well.

After all, it's a country steeped in superstition, folklore, mythology and stories about hauntings and apparitions and bogeymen and fairy-forts belonging to the fairy-folk or little people. If you can't find some decent material amongst all of that lot for your Oirish horror fillum, then you're not worth your salt as a horror director, lol.

Jaysis, sure we're the country that gave the world Bram Stoker and his horror masterpiece DRACULA (1897), probably the most-read work of horror fiction in the history of literature. Well, since the various esteemed Ripperologists published their guesses as to that rather unpleasant chap's identity, anyway...!

Bram Stoker, though he hailed from Clontarf, once lived in a house less than ten minutes walk away from my house, and I once put my butt in the exact same chair the great man occupied whenever he visited Marsh's Library, a magnificent local cultural attraction, to read or do a bit of scribbling. If that's not a claim to fame, I don't know what is.

THE LODGERS is kind of a damp squib, though, compared to some other stuff I've seen. It's been called 'the best gothic horror since THE OTHERS,' but THE OTHERS was a good scary film which I enjoyed hugely, despite the annoying mumbling of her lines by Nicole Kidman, an actress I must admit I've never cared for much. I'd be loads keener on her toothsome, couch-jumping billionaire ex-husband, though. Wouldn't mind at all being his ex. I bet it's right profitable, lol...

Anyway, THE LODGERS is set in 1920s Ireland against the backdrop of our War of Independence. You know, Michael Collins and all that. The conflict is only touched on briefly, however, probably just to give a context to the film. A sense of time and place and whatnot.

The action mostly takes place in and around a fabulous old mansion set in its own extensive wooded grounds in a rural village. The sole occupants- and owners- of the house are Anglo-Irish twins Rachel and Edward, a mopey, po-faced brother and sister who have lived in the house alone since their parents committed suicide jointly in the lake in their garden.

I understand that it can't have been much fun for them, having their parents top themselves in the lake that they have to see every time they set foot out of the door, but I still don't think that this excuses the level of po-faced mopey-ness we see in the pair of siblings.

They're the most miserable pair of sibs I've ever seen in a film. There's nothing dynamic or attractive in either of them, nothing to attract the viewer and make them think, yes, I really feel empathy for this character and want to support them and go with them on their journey.

In their effort to find suitably drab subjects for a haunting, I fear that the film-makers overstepped themselves by, like, a million miles. This pair are awful. I didn't feel anything for either of them except dislike. Therefore, I can't feel sorry for them when the bad shit starts to happen to them. I'm sorry but that's just the way it is, lol.

It's clear early on that the fantastic old gothic mansion is haunted by entities who are, presumably, the titular 'Lodgers.' They're not lodgers in the traditional sense, in that they don't have rent-books or get threatened with eviction when they play their old BLACK SABBATH records too loud or leave dirty towels on the floor of the communal bathroom. 

Neither do they have to give the landlord a blowjob in lieu of rent on weeks when they just don't have the bloody money because they spent it on tickets to see The Stone Roses. By the way, that never happened to me or anyone I know, it's just an example of stuff that might happen to tenants, just to be quite clear on that...!

We can see that they, 'the Lodgers,' live under the trapdoor in the front hall, the trapdoor from which water rises when the clock strikes midnight, at which point the siblings are required to be in bed in their rooms or else 'the Lodgers' will get them.

That's only one of the rules which 'the Lodgers' have imposed on the brother and sister. They mustn't talk to strangers either, or invite strangers across the threshold of the dilapidated old house. If they do this, 'the Lodgers' will swim up through the water to get them. And if one of them is foolish enough to try to escape, whoever's left behind will bear the brunt of 'the Lodgers'' anger and vengeance.

The Lodgers' control over the siblings is clearly designed to keep them in this lonely, isolated old neglected mansion until such time as it's time for them to join those who live beneath the trapdoor. The house and its occupants are cursed. It's going to be very hard for Rachel and Edward to break away from the house and the entities which haunt it.

Edward doesn't seem to want to break away at all. He seems interested only in obeying 'the Lodgers' stupid rules to the letter and seeing to it that Rachel does too. He's also interested in having sex with Rachel, the thought of which revulses Rachel. She fights against it as long as she can, in fact. But that doesn't mean that she's opposed to sex per se.

Oh no. She'd quite like to have sex with a young local guy called Sean, who's utterly reviled in his own village for having gone off to fight in the British Army. He's even more reviled than the Anglo-Irish poshos up at the big house. 

The Irish don't really like anyone, haha. We're a prickly people, prickly and pig-headed. We always think we're right about everything as well. And we're right suspicious of 'strangers.' You could live amongst us for thirty years and we'd still refer to you as 'just a blow-in' if you come from somewhere else.

Rachel's mad for this Sean fella. She's not even turned off at all by the fact that he has a false leg below one knee. If you like amputee porn, well, you might get a kick out of the way that she is quite obviously getting a kick out of fondling his half-a-leg.

Rachel turns to this blank-faced soldier for comfort and also she confides in him a little of her family's troubled history. He's a tad sceptical when it comes to the question of the dead coming back to haunt the living but, for reasons utterly beyond me, he digs the po-faced, stiff-necked Rachel who talks like she has a poker up her butt.

Maybe he digs her because he's had his own personality surgically removed as well, lol. He senses in her a kindred spirit. He agrees to help her to escape the house and its evil occupants. I'm guessing, however, that 'the Lodgers' may have something to say about that...

I quite like the storyline about the harassed family solicitor Mr. Bermingham, played by David Bradley (HARRY POTTER, GAME OF THRONES), whose job it is to tell the siblings that there's no more money left for them to live on. 

They'll have to sell the house, he says, which by the way they've allowed to deteriorate into a disgraceful condition. Clearly they're not able for the management of such a huge old residence. They simply must sell up and use the money to pay their mounting debts.

But the siblings know that they can't do that. 'The Lodgers' won't put up with that, for one thing. And the family curse requires that Rachel and Edward and their descendants (they'll have to have sex with each other in order to have descendants, snigger!) live in the house for all eternity. It looks like it might just be time to say bye-bye to Mister Solicitor...

More likeable characters, characters whom the viewers could identify with, might have made a big difference to THE LODGERS. As it is, nearly all the characters in this are dreadful. Cold, stand-offish, blank-faced and one-dimensional, and that's not the ghosts we're talking about either, it's the bloody humans!

The crumbly old house and its gorgeous wooded surrounds are the stars of THE LODGERS for me. The lake and the woods and the gate to the garden are all gorgeous to look at. Gimme some likeable, more human characters and this could have been a vastly different film. It's still worth a look, though. One man's meat and all that...


AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.

Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, film blogger, poet and book-and-movie reviewer. She has studied Creative Writing and Film-Making. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, womens' fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can browse or buy any of Sandra's books by following the link below straight to her Amazon Author Page:

http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B015GDE5RO

 You can contact Sandra at:

https://www.facebook.com/SandraHarrisPureFilthPoetry

http://sandrafirstruleoffilmclubharris.wordpress.com








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