The Lodgers is a 2017 Irish gothic horror film by director Brian O'Malley and writer David Turpin. Charlotte Vega and Bill Milner star as Rachel and Edward, a mysterious pair of twins living in an isolated, dilapidated mansion, while Eugene Simon stars as a young, handsome-but-troubled war veteran who becomes drawn to Rachel.
The twins are bound to the estate - and to each other - by a dark family secret, a terrible curse, and the sinister, unseen presences (the eponymous "Lodgers") that emerge every night from the water beneath a trapdoor in the entryway. The Lodgers are keen to enforce the curse, including its three rules:
- The twins must be in bed by midnight
- The twins must not permit any other person to enter the mansion
- If one twin attempts to escape, the other twin's life is forfeited to the lodgers
The film begins as two major crises converge, straining the twins' relationship. One crisis comes from outside: creditors are closing in and the twins will soon be forcibly evicted from the mansion to which their lives are tied. The other comes from below: the Lodgers are increasingly restless as the twins draw closer to their 18th birthday without fulfilling one of the abominable curse's key edicts. Time is running out and the likelihood of survival seems increasingly slim.
Tropes found in this film include:
- Abhorrent Admirer: Seen as Edward's overtures to Rachel become increasingly aggressive.
- Arranged Marriage: As with the generations before them, Rachel and Edward have been groomed since birth to become sexual partners and conceive the next generation of incestuous twins.
- Bizarrchitecture: How does a vast, seemingly-bottomless body of water exist inches beneath the floors of an earthbound Victorian mansion, and why is there a trapdoor in the middle of the entryway that opens directly into it?
- Campbell Country: The film is a gothic horror story that takes place in an isolated family estate adjacent to a rural Irish town.
- Dark Secret: The curse, along with its nature, origin and all that results from it, is rooted in a dark family secret unknown to the outside of world.
- Defiled Forever: An unusual variant enforced by the curse. Should Rachel lose her virginity to anyone but her twin, her "impurity" will make it impossible to fulfill the curse, thereby inciting the wrath of the Lodgers.
- Eerie Pale-Skinned Brunette: Both of the twins and Edward in particular.
- Flashback: We see a young Edward witnessing his parents fulfill the final edict of the curse by drowning themselves (or perhaps the father drowning both the mother and himself) in a pond.
- Gravity Screw: Water seeps out from the Lodger's trapdoor and falls upward to (and slowly wears away) the stone ceiling above.
- Incest-ant Admirer: Edward is eager to embrace the Mate or Die aspect of the curse, while Rachel is entirely repulsed by it.
- The Ingenue: Played with. On one hand, Rachel is a beautiful, chaste young woman whose life-long isolation from society at large makes her naive to the ways of the world. On the other hand, both of the twins have been groomed to keep themselves "pure" for one another until the curse demands they produce children together, making her ingenue status mostly involuntary.
- Mate or Die: The twins must conceive the next generation of twins by their 18th birthday or fall victim to the Lodgers.
- Nothing Is Scarier: The Lodgers' presence is initially indicated by water emerging from the trapdoor in the entryway, either dripping upwards to the ceiling or flooding the entryway. It is only much later in the film that we finally see the Lodgers and understand their connection to family and its curse.
- Old, Dark House: Naturally. Perhaps more dark than usual because the twins' resources for keeping it lit are dwindling.
- Rape Is a Special Kind of Evil: Edward crosses the threshold from an increasingly unlikeable (but ultimately sympathetic) victim and co-sufferer of the curse to an Asshole Victim when he assaults his sister and prepares to rape and forcibly impregnate her while she is unconscious. It's questionable how much of this behavior is influenced by the curse and the threat of imminent death, but it's not questionable that Edward genuinely covets his sister and has ignored several earlier pleas to flee the mansion together and avert this very scenario.
- Twincest: A central plot point and a hereditary curse.
- Virgin in a White Dress: Rachel is wearing her pristine-white shift when Edward realizes that she is "still pure"...and that he can take advantage of her unconscious state to relieve her of said purity.