Check out the official trailer for THE LODGERS. World premiere at TIFF 2017.
The Lodgers is a classic Gothic ghost story. It tells the tragic and haunting story of orphaned twins Edward and Rachel who reside on a crumbling family estate in 1920s rural Ireland. Though isolated, they are not alone.
They share the house with unseen entities who govern the house by three strict rules:
1. The twins must be in bed – with their doors locked – by midnight each night.
2. They must never allow anyone cross the threshold.
3. They must never permanently leave the house.
4. Any failure to abide by these strict rules promises that the twins will feel the wrath of those who reside below – The Lodgers.
On the dawn of their 18th birthday, as they prepare to bear the crippling responsibility of the long held family tradition, Rachel experiences a sexual awakening with a young man returned from the First World War. As an Irish man fighting alongside the British, Seán finds himself to be an outsider in his own country, and within him Rachel finds a kindred spirit, and the possibility of a life beyond the estate.
As Rachel fights to free herself from the despicable expectations of her ancestors, Edward fears for their souls at the hands of the Lodgers. With the estranging of his beloved sister manifesting itself in his physical degeneration, Edward withdraws into a lonely madness, and finds solace in the kinship of a small black bird that only he can see.
Realizing she must fight alone to escape a fate bound by an illicit love, Rachel is drawn into a watery final confrontation with the Lodgers, and her long deceased, eternally damned parents.
THE EXPERIENCE OF SHOOTING THE LODGERS
The Lodgers features an audaciously strong-willed woman desperately trying to escape her fate, her timid brother who possesses a tenacious grip on home and history, and a traitor who returns from war to find himself involved in a new kind of battle.
Penned by musician and professor of gothic literature David Turpin, the concept for The Lodgers began when he reached out to his friends at Tailored Films.
“The Lodgers came about when David Turpin, who we were actually in college with many years ago, came to us and said if there’s one type of film you’d like to make, what would it be?” says producer Ruth Treacy. “We mentioned that we’d love to create a gothic ghost story and literally within about two days, he’d come up with the pitch for The Lodgers. We brought it immediately to the Irish Film Board who supported it in development and right through the whole production process.”
Director Brian O’Malley (Let Us Prey) believes that Rachel, the film’s protagonist, will appeal to modern audiences – especially women. A “fascinating character with an edge of darkness to her,” O’Malley saw a brilliant and captivating Rachel in actress Charlotte Vega (The Refugees). Vega, who is no stranger to the horror genre, lept at the opportunity to play Rachel. “There aren’t many strong, complex female leads for young women out there so when I read The Lodgers I thought, here she is,” says Vega. “Straight away I saw it as a massive opportunity to be able to portray a truly brave and passionate character, a character that has been so masterfully created by David. I feel like I’m Rachel when I’m on set and I love her.” Bill Milner (X-Men: First Class, iBoy), who plays Rachel’s twin brother Edward, felt the same way, echoing Charlotte’s praise for Turpin’s creation.
“Looking at the role of Edward, I was really interested in his relationships with both Rachel and the house” says Milner. “There is a lot of depth to David’s writing, so there was much to take and learn from it. I really enjoy playing dark characters. I think there’s a nice kind of stillness to it. It’s very rare you get to do scenes like this where you get to be really horrible without any sense of remorse.”
According to Charlotte, her and Milner hit it off from the beginning, quickly developing a level of comfort with one another that made creating such a dark, complex relationship easier. David Bradley (Harry Potter, Game of Thrones), who plays Bermingham and who Vega described as a “legend” was a notable addition to the cast.
“He’s someone you know that comes to the table with this persona from other movies that’s slightly creepy and that’s why we cast him” says O’Malley. “In real life, he’s the most warm, embracing person. Everybody loved him, he really enjoyed his time with us. He said his scenes with Charlotte were very special and he’d love to work with her again.” Another recognizable name is that of Eugene Simon (Game of Thrones), who plays Rachel’s potential love interest SeЗn.
“I discovered a great affinity and strong gravitational pull to the character of SeЗn,” says Simon. “The hook was trying to understand the immediate and unwavering pull that SeЗn feels towards Rachel. It’s both innocent and intense and that caught my eye very quickly.”
Simon had quite a few obstacles to overcome for his role. Not only did he have to master an Irish accent, but playing SeЗn also took both a physical and psychological toll on him.
“I can’t pretend that I’m not an action junky. The fight scenes with the wonderful Moe Dunford were always a painful pleasure. But playing a character who is missing a greater part of his lower leg is really very psychologically challenging. You have to constantly feel it and remind yourself of it.”
Simon was not the only one psychologically – or physically – challenged on set, as all three main cast members were involved in extensive underwater shoots.
“I loved the underwater shoot,” says Vega. “Willy and his team were amazing. The underwater camera crew were so experienced and talented, it all went swimmingly – excuse the pun!” Milner was originally uneasy about shooting underwater, but that changed quickly. “The team was great at getting us ready for the shoot, they were a really calming influence on set. For something that I was originally quite nervous about, it actually became one of my favorite parts of the shoot.”
The entire film seemed to come together through the remote shooting locations, specifically Loftus Hall in County Wexford. According to producer Julianne Forde of Tailored Films, the creepy country estate was the perfect combination of “decrepit but functioning.”
Rumored to be the most haunted house in Ireland, Loftus Hall celebrated its 666th year while shooting for The Lodgers was taking place. The house itself is not only creepy, but also steeped in history. According to production designer Joe Fallover, the staircase featured in the film has two sister staircases – one in the Vatican and one in the sunken remains of the Titanic. “You walk through the door and you feel like you’ve travelled through time, and that really transfers onto the screen,” said O’Malley.
The rumors and the ghost stories held true, adding to the film’s fear factor.
“One of our crew stayed there overnight and he said that a few minutes after he laid his head down to sleep one night, he heard circling footsteps in the room above him even though he was alone in the house at the time” recalled O’Malley.
“I don’t know if David Turpin knew about Loftus Hall and wrote [the script] specifically for it, or if they just found the perfect location for the shoot, because they seem to go together so perfectly” raved Milner.
Simon agreed saying that in an industry that boasts sensational set designers, no one could have beaten Loftus Hall’s authenticity. Vega echoed the sentiment, attributing the location to her success in the role of Rachel. She said that from the moment she entered the crumbling building, she was already in character.
“In a studio you have to suspend disbelief and imagine you’re in a place,” says Bradley. “But with Loftus Hall, it just makes it real.”
While Brian O’Malley is quick to compliment his talented cast and crew, they held back no praise for the film’s director.
“A good director can make it all so much easier and fun, and I like the fact that he works very quickly,” says Bradley.
Milner appreciated the faith O’Malley had in the cast, and the space he gave them to do what they wanted with their respective roles.
For Vega, it was one of the best crews she’s ever worked with. “I really hope I get to work with Brian again, he’s not only extremely talented, he’s also a genuinely lovely person. It was honestly such a pleasure working with him, he’s so passionate but also stayed so calm through the shoot. It’s so helpful when your director comes over to talk to you face to face about the scene. He was always there for us and we all really believed in the vision he had for the film.” Through writer David Turpin’s vision of a gothic story with a teetering tension between the unreality of the supernatural and the reality of the time and place, O’Malley was able to see his dream become a reality.
“The best thing for me about working on this film was fulfilling a lifelong dream to shoot a period ghost story” says O’Malley. “I really couldn’t believe that I was getting to fulfill that dream”.
“What people can expect from The Lodgers is a spooky ghost story with a strange sexual undercurrent, and that brings a kind of twisted darkness to it that is unique in ghost stories.” added O’Malley.
Vega sees the film as so much more than just a 1920s ghost story.
“The Lodgers is eerie, intimate and thrilling. It’s just so clever. It’s very still, very quiet and very beautiful. I think the greatest thing about The Lodgers is that it’s left to people’s imagination, so you can decide what it is for you.”