I am telling you definitively, a deteriorating old house, weird siblings, and an existential secret? I will eat it up every single time whether it is good or not. There are about a thousand movies with that exact premise and The Lodgers (2017) is no different. So, let me tell you the completely biased reasons I loved it for another twenty paragraphs straight.
Twins Rachel (Charlotte Vega) and Edward (Bill Milner) are confined to their ancestral home by a curse contrived of dark sin. Together they are bound in blood and spirit to the house’s grounds, forbidden from allowing outsiders to ever see within their walls. Written by David Turpin and directed by Brian O’Malley the gothic horror capitalizes on the use of creepy nursery rhymes, old houses, and a family secret.
The Song Goes Like This
This on its own could stand as the synopsis and is quite a clever piece of writing. It holds everything you need to know about the characters, the plot, and the tone. Let’s break it down.
“Girl child, boy child listen well, be in bed by midnight bell.
Never let a stranger through your door, never leave each other all alone.
Good sister, good brother be, follow well these cautions three.
Long as your blood be ours alone, we’ll see you ever from below.”
Completely sane and normal nursery rhyme obviously. This is sung multiple times throughout the film and used as the basis for the twins’ behavior. Except when it doesn’t. The movie opens with Rachel nearly missing the midnight mark because she fell asleep outside.
The next line, “never let a stranger through your door.” Listen, I won’t spoil anything, but I’ll let you guess what the catalyst for the movie is. “Never leave each other all alone,” this might be the rule that is disregarded the most.
The last half of this is so literal and I love it. Did I mention that the ancestors literally live below the floorboards?
The song is a simple writing trick, but one that is so effective for setting the scene.
Nods to History
The siblings are dressed in clothing, not from their current era. It’s more prominent in Rachel’s dresses, as she is seen almost exclusively in petticoats from the early 1880s or so despite the movie being set in the 1920s.
It is a small detail, but one that gives significant subtext to the idea that these siblings have been kept away from secular society.
Pairing with that, the two talk continuously about how all of their belongings are hand-me-downs from their parents, despite the family living at the estate for two centuries.
This gives me a lot of questions like, why were they only ever shown in their parent’s clothes and nothing older? Furthermore, how did their parents acquire fashionable garments from their time period if it were forbidden to leave the house for any great length of time? Truthfully, I don’t need an answer, but it does play with the theme in the movie about rigidity and secrecy.
Rachel expresses multiple times she feels trapped within the confines of her family’s curse and that she yearns for a way to be broken away from her “duty”. She reinforces that idea by spending all of the time she has away to go walk the grounds. Her feelings are proven to not be shared by Edward. This is the catalyst for most of their discourse, him wanting to not only be subservient but wanting her to serve as well and his ever-growing attachment to a town boy who she fantasizes often about running away with.
Sex and Twincest
Speaking of town boy, the movie takes on an inherent sexual nature throughout the movie, centering the pressure both Rachel and the other women in the movie feel from their counterparts to perform sexual favors for them. I usually wouldn’t endorse the value of such a subplot in a horror movie. This is a niche opinion, but I believe horror films sometimes cheat by simply replaying horrible lived experiences of real people.
The tropes more often than not have an overt sexual connotation. For me, it hits too close to reality and pulls me out of the fantasy. Sometimes it feels like films capitalize on the pain of an all too large population in order to pander to a minority that just likes to see horrible things.
A large portion of the plot hinders on Rachel’s unwillingness to consummate with her brother to carry on the twincest bloodline. It’s never outright said, but it is alluded to that the twins’ parents were also twins and so will be the children Rachel. During this time Rachel is just barely finding out what sex is as a woman and what pleasure means for her. As she finds sanctuary in the village she is receiving pushback from Edward and morbid pressure from her ancestors beneath the floorboards to consummate with her brother.
What about the house and the ghostly people in the lake under the floorboards
If you ever want recommendations for movies where the house is the main character, let me know. This house is exquisite. Taking on an Edgar Allen Poe-esq theme of a river that plays a companion role and nearly becoming characters itself.
After the next generation of children is born into this family the parents raise them to maturity and commit themselves to the bottom of the lake to join the others. Gruesome. The previous parents are shown a few times by Rachel floating above the water, holding each other in an eerie bloated mess. It’s her constant reminder that not only is that her fate but something she should be looking forward to.
The last thing I want to touch on is the overarching theme of the movie. I am notorious for overthinking so bear with me.
That’s it. Dramatic obviously, but it’s a perfect adoration of the toll generational curses can have on a bloodline and the individuals that have to endure the unresolved trauma of their ancestors. In this case and many others, this family doesn’t hide from the past but doesn’t attempt to resolve it either, opting to dwell in self-punishment.
It is self-inflicted oppression. One that Rachel has no desire to perpetuate. So often fiction will reflect reality in some aspect and I personally think this movie is a great example of what is happening in political circles now. I won’t go into that, but it is worth noting.
The Lodgers (2017) pulls together a perfect mix of gothic horror cut with an generational curse to tell a compelling tale. I loved this movie so much that it’s ridiculous. It will definitely be a rewatch favorite of mine.
The Lodgers (2017) - A generational curse lies deep beneath the water - Malevolent Dark
Director: Brian O'Malley
Date Created: 1970-01-01 00:33
- Spooky gothic tale
- Great cinematography
- Interesting ghostly presence
- Unecessarily incorporates the topic of incest