The Lodgers, a Gothic horror film that is basically about a brother who desperately wants to fuck his sister (yes, this is a spoiler but it's really obvious this is a Jamie-Cersei thing from the very beginning), was funded by the Irish Film Board (as many truly excellent and never-seen movies are) and came and went with nary a ghostly whisper earlier this year. According to Box Office Mojo, it made $7,362 in America. Netflix finally took mercy on the film and picked up the rights, which is how I ended up watching it on my couch in the Central Javanese city of Yogyakarta. I remember last year - or maybe earlier this year - it was actually in theaters here in Indonesia for about a week before vanishing, like the ghostly imprint of an aquatic zombie.
Which is a shame! Because it's not bad at all. It's a nice addition to this Gothic Horror Movie Revival we've recently been experiencing - films like Marrowbone or Crimson Peak, which are not really scary and were unfairly knocked for not being true ghost stories or having enough jump scares. That is dumb and further evidence that the viewing public has become an unsophisticated mass of nose-breathing dylatribes, because Gothic horror is not about jump scares or rivers of blood and it never has been. It's psychological horror, usually concerned with people battling the demons of their past in a gorgeous-looking spooky mansion of some kind.
The Lodgers fits that template exactly - it's a period piece, set in the post-War years, with a limited cast who are all trapped in the orbit of this gorgeous Gothic mansion that is decaying as the sins of the past eat away at it and suck our characters slowly down into its madness. From a plot and character standpoint it's pretty basic, and nothing you haven't seen before from the Gothic genre. But it is nevertheless well-done and the house is gorgeous. In this case, the past is represented as actual aquatic zombies and the film hints that they are real - rather than mere figments of the imagination. But never mind that. The real strength of this film is in its production values, because a Gothic horror film will never work if the spooky ghostly mansion is not perfectly kitted out to carry the weight of the story. I think in the production design, the film nails it. The house is overflowing with decay.
It's also pretty sneakily good with the ghostly, ethereal lighting and cinematography. In the very end there are some scenes that are quite pretty to look at, and they are not composed or lit in way that you don't see terribly often in films these days. So yeah, do the effects leave a bit to be desired? Sure. Is the story a little weird and telegraphs where it's going? Definitely. Are the characters mostly one-dimensional (although I enjoyed Charlotte Vega in the lead role)? You could say that. Is the brother character basically budget Eddie Redmayne? Absolutely. But as far as the Gothic horror genre goes, it hits all the marks and allows high production values to carry it across the finish like. What more can you ask for in a film about mystical twins who love boning one another in a house that is definitely a toxic mold lawsuit waiting to happen?
Lodgers, you may not be a masterpeice - but you deserved better!