Irish gothic supernatural thriller The Lodgers is available on Netflix from Thursday, 23 August.
1920, County Carlow, rural Ireland. Anglo-Irish twins Rachel and Edward share a strange existence in their crumbling family estate. Each night, the property becomes the domain of a sinister presence which enforces 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. When troubled war veteran Sean returns to the nearby village, he is immediately drawn to the mysterious Rachel, who in turn 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.
Award winning gothic ghost story The Lodgers to be released in Irish cinemas on March 9th 2018
The Lodgers, a gothic ghost story directed by award winning filmmaker Brian O’Malley comes to Irish cinemas on March 9th 2018. Written by musician and Professor of Gothic literature, David Turpin and produced by Julianne Forde and Ruth Treacy of Tailored Films, it was filmed in Loftus Hall in Wexford, widely recognised as the ‘most haunted house in Ireland’.
Nominated for 3 IFTAs, the film stars Charlotte Vega (American Assassin), Bill Milner (Son of Rambow), Moe Dunford (Patrick’s Day, Michael Inside) and David Bradley (Harry Potter, The World’s End), with Deirdre O’Kane (Noble) rounding out the cast. The film, which premiered at last year’s Toronto International Film Festival and has been sold for theatrical release in over 22 countries receives its homegrown release in Ireland this March.
The film is set against the backdrop of the Irish War of Independence in 1920s rural Ireland. Anglo Irish twins Rachel and Edward share a strange existence in their crumbling family estate. Every midnight, the mansion is haunted by the sinister presence of The Lodgers, who enforce three rules upon the twins: they must be in bed by midnight, they may not permit an outsider past the threshold, and they must always stay together.
When troubled war veteran Sean returns to the nearby village, he is immediately drawn to the mysterious Rachel, who in turn 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.
Since its premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival, it has been wowing audiences and critics alike. The film has been honoured with 3 awards this year, including the Jury Prize for Best Film at the Molins de Rei Horror Film Festival in Barcelona, as well as official Jury Awards for Best Special Effects and Best Actress (Charlotte Vega) at Fancine Festival de Cine Fantastico de la Universidad de Malaga in Malaga, Spain.
The film is nominated for IFTAs in the categories of Best Costume Design (Sara Jane Ffrench O’Carroll), Best Production Design (Joe Fallover) and Best Visual Effects (Tailored Films and Bowsie Workshop).
Produced by Ruth Treacy and Julianne Forde of Tailored Films, the film was made with the participation of the Irish Film Board / Bord Scannán na hÉireann and international sales agents Epic Pictures.
Loretta Goff gets gothic at The Lodgers, which screened at the Cork Film Festival.
Introducing The Lodgers at the Cork Film Festival, Director Brian O’Malley said that he wanted to make a “beautiful and elegant ghost story” that reflected the script. O’Malley was given David Turpin’s script by producers Ruth Treacy and Julianne Forde after they saw his first feature film, the horror Let Us Prey (2014). After reading it and being struck by the beauty of some of the dialogue, O’Malley decided to bring the gothic horror to life.
The Lodgers tells the story of Rachel (Charlotte Vega) and Edward (Bill Milner), Anglo-Irish twins who live alone in a boarded up, decaying Big House in rural 1920s Ireland. The two are bound to the house by a family curse, sharing it only with the supernatural spirits that live below, emerging through a hatch in the floor to haunt their nights. The siblings must always be in their rooms by midnight and cannot let anyone else enter their residence for fear of otherworldly punishment. Edward dreads leaving the house at all, feeling “protected” by it in some way, and unravels within it, becoming part of its shadows. Rachel, on the other hand, takes her days for herself, enjoying the freedom of the outdoors, particularly after she meets the recently returned WWI soldier, Sean (Eugene Simon).
As the twins turn eighteen, the presence of the spirits grows heavier, creating a sense of urgency. This is reinforced by the visit of estate manager, Mr. Bermingham (David Bradley), who bears news of their dire finances and demands to appraise the mansion for sale. Amidst this, Rachel becomes more daring and desperate to escape, leading to increased tension with her brother.
Vega and Milner deliver strong performances as the siblings who are at once very alike (often going through the same motions in parallel) and very different (with opposing desires). The actors’ chemistry with one another carries from tender moments to violent, and often uncomfortable, ones. Together they aptly portray a relationship in turmoil, reflecting how being bound together can also tear you apart.
The striking production of this film deserves special attention; from the sets to the costuming and cinematography, The Lodgers looks very good. Under the guidance of O’Malley, who used The Innocents (1961), The Hunger (1983) and The Duke of Burgundy (2014) as references for the look of the film, director of photography Richard Kendrick and production designer Joe Fallover create a sumptuous gothic aesthetic. Loftus Hall in Wexford, itself reportedly haunted, offers an imposing presence in the film as the twins’ place of residence, eerily solid and impervious at the same time, holding the twins in, but also leaving them open to threat (thin curtains blow out an open window that lets in the elements and the otherworldly frequently intrude with their watery presence). The house reflects a fading decadence, replaced by dampness and erosion, that mirrors the weakening grip of English colonial power in Ireland at the time.
Indeed, this film reflects another haunting spectre—that of England’s presence in Ireland. A group of local young men, led by Dessie (Moe Dunford), consider the returned Sean a traitor for fighting in the British Army while they were busy fighting their own war at home. They equally regard the Anglo-Irish twins in the Big House with disdain, reflecting both political and class tensions. Topping it all off is the grave simply marked 1916 in the woods of the estate. Though this marks the burial spot of the twins’ parents, in the context of Ireland it only evokes one thing—the 1916 Rising. Genre films are often criticised as lacking cultural specificity, but that cannot be said about The Lodgers.
Overall, while the film’s narrative does let it down in some places, feeling a bit simplified, this is made up for by its stunning visual style, gothic-drenched atmosphere and strong acting by the two leads. This new Irish horror is definitely one to watch.