The Lodger

"Bad"

The Lodger Review


Marie Belloc Lowndes' 1913 novel, The Lodger, based on the grisly Jack the Ripper killings in turn-of-the-century London, has been grist for the movie pulp mill ever since its publication. Knockoff versions of the story trace the history of film, from Pabst's Pandora's Box and all the way to mad psycho James Spader in Jack's Back and Daffy Duck taking on the Shropshire Slasher in Deduce You Say. The most famous version of the novel itself was the first Hitchcock-style Hitchcock film, the 1927 silent The Lodger starring Ivor Novello, who later recreated his role in a 1932 sound remake. The most atmospheric version of the tale was John Brahm's 1944 Fox redux with the creepy Laird Cregar as the notorious murderer.

Now writer/director David Ondaatje has come along with a contemporary version of the story, updated to the mean streets of L.A. in 2009. And this new version of The Lodger also has atmosphere in spades.

Ondaatje fractures Lowndes' novel into two jagged, schizophrenic halves -- a hermetic story about a hateful young married couple (Hope Davis and Donal Logue) that rent out their guest house to an enigmatic writer (Simon Baker), and a police investigation by two deeply disturbed detectives in the LAPD (Alfred Molina and Shane West) who are following a series of murders of prostitutes in L.A. whose killings mimic the Jack the Ripper murders of old. Ultimately, the two stories intersect and shatter.

Ondaatje remarks in the press notes as being influenced by Hitchcock in the making of The Lodger and sprinkled throughout the film are visual allusions to Hitchcock, from Ellen (Davis) watching her husband (Logue) slice bread and only hearing the word "knife," to in/out tracks reminiscent of scenes in Vertigo and Psycho, to a tribute to the Simon Oakland psychiatric explanation at the end of Psycho. But Ondaatje smears The Lodger with a burdensome style that is less Hitchcock and more the oppressive Brian De Palma 1970s retreads of Hitchcock (Obsession, Dressed To Kill, The Fury), which were all style and no substance. Ondaatje further fractures the style by dipping heavily into the Godfrey Reggio bouillabaisse of Koyaanisqatsi with sped-up, color-saturated shots of L.A. traffic and quick-motion room cleanups. Ondaatje even mixes in some M. Night Shyamalan for good measure.

Unfortunately, the measure is not all that good.

The film unfolds in a movie universe, and the closest Ondaatje gets to the real is his homages, which, of course, are not real at all. It is ironic since Ondaatje amasses a great cast of indie film actors (Molina, Davis, West, Baker, Logue, Philip Baker Hall, Mel Harris, Rebecca Pidgeon, Rachael Leigh Cook) but all for naught, with the actors given unforgivable dialogue to recite ("Pull up anything you can on Jack the Ripper"). Even the much admired Hall, as head of the feds, has nothing to do but run around dogging Molina as if recreating his library cop role from Seinfeld.

Ondaatje delivers a distancing, expressionistic slasher film of the disturbed mass mind. In The Lodger it is, indeed, mass madness. It is hard to be too concerned about a psychotic serial killer since everyone in the film appears to be psychotically screwy and any character here could easily be taken for a killer. Molina's Chandler Manning character is clearly teetering on the edge and has some serious issues with his daughter and wife Margaret (Mel Harris), whom he has seemingly driven insane and who now resides in a mental ward. Bunting (Logue) and his wife Ellen (Davis) are one step away from killing each other with a knife... knife... knife and Bunting has to keep reminding Ellen to take her anti-psychotic medication (although he could probably use a prescription himself). Of course, the new lodger Malcolm (Baker) insists on removing the portraits in his room because he doesn't like the paintings staring at him.

At the end of the film, when the killer is revealed, it's startling -- not because it is any big surprise (it isn't), but because you half expect to see the entire cast locked up.

As Cagney remarked in White Heat, "Stark, raving nuts."



Facts and Figures

Run time: 68 mins

In Theaters: Monday 14th February 1927

Distributed by: Video Yesteryear

Production compaines: Merchant Pacific Corporation

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 1.5 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 95%
Fresh: 20 Rotten: 1

IMDB: 7.4 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director: David Ondaatje

Producer: , David Ondaatje

Starring: as Chandler Manning, as Ellen Bunting, as Street Wilkenson, as Bunting, as Captain Smith, as Amanda, as Dr. Jessica Westmin, as Malcolm, François Chau as Sam, as Margaret, Michael O'Hagan as Bruce Lester, as Dr. Stevens, Ernie Grunwald as Gregor, as Rachel Madison

Also starring:

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Their Finest Movie Review

Their Finest Movie Review

Skilfully written, directed and acted, this offbeat British period film tells a story that catches...

Unforgettable Movie Review

Unforgettable Movie Review

With heavy echoes of trashy thrillers like Fatal Attraction, this movie overcomes its painfully simplistic...

The Belko Experiment Movie Review

The Belko Experiment Movie Review

The kill-or-die scenario that this movie hinges on isn't something new; it's been used in...

The Fate of the Furious Movie Review

The Fate of the Furious Movie Review

With the more dumbed-down title Fast & Furious 8 outside of North America, this overcrowded...

A Quiet Passion Movie Review

A Quiet Passion Movie Review

British writer-director Terence Davies (The Deep Blue Sea) is an expert at digging beneath the...

The Sense of an Ending Movie Review

The Sense of an Ending Movie Review

Julian Barnes' Booker Prize-winning novel is adapted into a remarkably intelligent, gently involving film anchored...

The Boss Baby Movie Review

The Boss Baby Movie Review

There isn't a lot of subtlety in this madcap animated comedy, which is more aimed...

Advertisement
City of Tiny Lights Movie Review

City of Tiny Lights Movie Review

After the latest incarnation of Dredd, director Pete Travis shifts gears drastically for this complex...

Going in Style Movie Review

Going in Style Movie Review

This is only technically a remake of the iconic 1979 film starring movie icons George...

Graduation Movie Review

Graduation Movie Review

Romanian filmmaker Cristian Mungiu (4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days) recounts another staggeringly detailed...

Ghost in the Shell Movie Review

Ghost in the Shell Movie Review

This sci-fi thriller is so visually stunning that it deserves to be mentioned in the...

Free Fire Movie Review

Free Fire Movie Review

Basically a 90-minute shoot-out, there isn't a lot to this movie. British filmmaker Ben Wheatley...

Life Movie Review

Life Movie Review

Like a mash-up of Alien and Gravity, this ripping sci-fi horror movie is very effective...

The Lost City of Z Movie Review

The Lost City of Z Movie Review

Based on a true story, it's the historical aspect of these events that holds the...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.