While there has been the occasional clunker, 2017 has been a great year for horror movies, with nearly every subgenre having the chance to shine. Long-gestating projects like The Belko Experiment and Alien: Covenant have finally seen light, and original movies such as XX and 47 Meters Down haven proven to be popular with audiences and critics alike.
Behind the camera, directors like M. Night Shyamalan would return to prominence with smash hits like Split while unexpected directors like Jordan Peele and musician Flying Lotus leave their impact on horror with Get Out and Kuso, respectively. Whether we are talking arthouse fare like It Comes at Night or returning franchises like Annabelle: Creation, there was something for everyone. The same could be said movies from overseas, with horror-thrillers like England's The Limehouse Golem and Australia's Killing Ground being indie hits in their own right. The latest of these international horror films is Ireland's moody gothic film The Lodgers.
Orphaned at an early age, twins Edward and Rachel share a dilapidated mansion in 1920s Ireland. Growing apart over time, they are kept together by the spirits that haunt the home and the strict set of rules the two are forced to followed. When drawn to war veteran Sean, Rachel begins to break the house's rules, hurting her brother. Drawn more and more to the outside world, Rachel and her brother are forced to confront the curse that haunts their family.
#TheLodgers is the first screenplay from David Turpin and is the second film from Irish director Brian O'Malley (Let Us Prey). Starring Charlotte Vega ([REC] 3: Genesis), Bill Milner (X:Men: First Class), David Bradley (Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban), The Lodgers seems to be something different from anything else to come out this year. Taking a cue from movies like The Innocents and Crimson Peak, The Lodgers seems less concerned with jump scares or gore and more with creating a sense of dread. With its atmospheric trailer and mysterious plot, it seems to have an artistic quality to it rarely seen in horror today.
Horror And The Luck Of The Irish
This isn't to say this is the first good Irish horror film. In fact, the past few years have seen the country really cement its place in horror there has always been great Irish films. As far back as 1963's Dementia 13, the Emerald Isle has given visionaries like Francis Ford Coppola and Clive Barker a voice. The country has given us many classics over the years but since the 2010s the island nation has slowly been pumping out some of the most creative #horror around.
What makes their output so interesting is that none of their movies are just horror films. Sure, a movie like Wake Wood will have blood and the kind of demon child imagery fans expect from a scary movie, but beneath the gore and supernatural terror Irish horror stories tend to have an engrossing story to back it up. In fact, one of the best examples of this comes from The Lodgers director Brian O'Malley and his debut feature, Let Us Prey.
From its synth-heavy opening score Let Us Prey feels like any other horror movie trying to copy John Carpenter, more specifically Assault on Precinct 13. However, as the film progresses and the mystery unfolds, audiences are treated to one of the most imaginative genre-defying movies of the past decade. Combining religious horror and single-location terror, it makes for a gory and tension-filled experience unlike any other. If O'Malley is this impressive in his debut, I can't wait to see what he has in store for audiences with The Lodgers.
The Lodgers will premiere on September 8 at the Toronto International Film Festival.