The Lodgers is an Irish ghost story set in 1920. The story revolves around Rachel and Edward, twins who have just turned 18. The siblings are essentially trapped in their family’s estate, held captive by the sins of their ancestors in a sense. They have to live by a set of rules which forbid them from moving and from having strangers in the house. These rules are put to the test by Rachel as she seems to have grown tired of living this way. Her brother has resigned himself to his fate and is quite upset with the things she is choosing to do.
I don’t feel like The Lodgers has the strongest script. The premise is great but the story doesn’t feel like it has much forward momentum. It’s a slow burn to be sure. What ultimately saves this movie is the direction of Brian O’Malley and the performances of Charlotte Vega and Bill Milner.
For his part, O’Malley creates an atmosphere that seems to come off of the screen and into your living room. The Lodgers isn’t really a scary movie so much as one that just makes the viewer feel uneasy. I would liken it to The Others in that sense. This creepy feeling is created by O’Malley and it seems to pull you into the film even when there doesn’t seem to be a whole lot happening.
Vega and Milner play the twins and they both turn in great work. Milner plays Edward as a frightened boy at times and channels the characters inner rage when needed. The real heavy lifting in the film is done by Vega though. Rachel is a complex character (one area where the screenplay does shine). She is dealing with being trapped in a terrible situation, going broke, falling in love for the first time and coming alive sexually all at once. It’s not an exaggeration to say that the success of the entire film was resting on the shoulders of Charlotte Vega and she played the part perfectly.
I can’t shake the feeling that The Lodgers falls a little short of being as good as it could have been but it is certainly worth the $7 to see. This is only the second feature that Brian O’Malley has directed but it’s obvious that he has a bright future in gothic horror movies if he wants to continue making them. No matter what he makes next, I’ll certainly be watching.