A scary thing happened on the way to the Movie Forums - Horrorcrammers


The Lodgers, 2017

Rachel (Charlotte Vega) and Edward (Bill Milner) are twins living in the sprawling but decrepit estate left to them after the death of their parents. The twins are haunted, harassed, and at times punished by the "Lodgers"-spirits of their parents and ancestors that haunt the home and have very specific rules and plans for the teenagers. But when Rachel, already restless, strikes up a tentative romance with Sean (Eugene Simon), a young man recently returned from war with a prosthetic leg, Edward and the Lodgers take exception.

This is a slightly better take on a very familiar dynamic/premise, elevated by good performances, neat imagery, and some decent sequences of suspense. Unfortunately, there are a few too many loose threads and predictable horror movie moments to be something solidly really good.

Vega is sympathetic as Rachel, really embodying someone who has been basically brainwashed and isolated her whole life, but who pushes back against the destiny that has been chosen for her. Milner is also good as Edward, who wants to follow through with the plans for the twins, though it's somewhat ambiguous how much he buys into the plan and how much he simply doesn't want to relinquish his hold on Rachel.

Simon is incredibly sympathetic as Sean, a character he gives plenty of warmth and good guy energy to. Unfortunately, despite getting a decent amount of screen time, Sean is a bit underdeveloped. There's a pretty good scene where Rachel tries to describe the house's haunting by comparing it to Sean's phantom limb syndrome ("So you do know what it's like to feel something that isn't there anymore"), but other than that the scenes with him are pretty redundant. While I'll stay away from spoilers, I thought that ultimately I didn't appreciate the way that his character was used in the third act. Likewise, the treatment of the character of Sean's sister, Kay, who is simply dropped from the movie with some unfinished business.

The central premise of the film, once made very explicit, is upsetting and adds some charge to the final act as you ponder just how far the film and its characters will go toward making the Lodgers' plans come true. That said, both final moments of conflict feel overly familiar in their staging, especially the oft, oft, oft repeated sight of (MODERATE SPOILERS)
WARNING: spoilers below
someone sexually assaulting an unconscious woman

I did like some of the imagery in the film. The movie goes back to the same handful of images (such as eels emerging from unexpected places or the visual of characters floating in the air as if they are underwater), but I happen to like that "floating" visual effect, so I didn't mind it. I also liked the look of a dream sequence where Sean imagines himself walking through the house, his lower leg missing and yet he's walking as if it is there. And since it's something I tend to notice in films, I give this one props for parity in the use of nudity.

I wish that the film had stayed a little further from horror tropes. I was not impressed that in the first ten minutes we were introduced to a lullaby-type song that the twins had been taught that spells out the rules of their confinement. The final act also features some astoundingly stupid decisions, especially by Rachel. Even the idea that "Well, this is how she was raised" doesn't cover the idiocy on display. And as those decisions start to hurt those around her, I found my sympathy plummeting.

This is definitely watchable, with just enough visual and story interest to recommend.

Um, I'm doing my top 10 favorite moments from The Twilight Zone over in the TV forum (yes, there is a TV forum) if anyone is interested. Kind of disappointed that I missed the Twilight Zone Hall of Fame thread. Oh well.