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THE LODGER
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Reviewed by: JimmyO

Directed by: David Ondaatje

Starring:
Alfred Molina
Hope Davis
Shane West

Movie:  
star star star star
Extras:  
star star star star
Overall:  
star star star star
What's it about
In West Hollywood, a murderer seems to be targeting prostitutes (female prostitutes in West Hollywood??? Really???) in a similar fashion to Jack the Ripper. Meanwhile, a lonely women welcomes a strange man to rent her and her husbands guest house. Could it be that he is the killer? And could the detective investigating the case be any more useless? I didn’t care much either way.
Is it good movie?
Help me out here… how can a mystery that has a pretty damn good cast, including Simon Baker, Alfred Molina and Hope Davis be as brutally bland as The Lodger? It seems to have everything that could have made for a fascinating thriller. When a slew of prostitutes are murdered in a similar fashion to Jack the Ripper, Detective Chandler Manning (Molina) finds that an early case he handled years ago may be connected. So already, this guy is in some pretty deep shite if you know what I’m saying. But there is something creepy going on when a couple in need of money are looking for someone to rent their guest space. The couple, played by Hope Davis and Donal Logue, seem to have a bitter marriage and when a strange man (Baker) comes knocking on their door, he convinces the lonely lady to let him stay but nobody else must have a key. It looks as though “red herrings” are getting delivered early this year.

Needless to say, this is a talented cast, and even writer/director David Ondaatje paints an interesting looking picture. There are quite a few terrific shots throughout. But the problem is, the mystery seems to be so in love with itself that it forgets to actually build suspense or feel necessary. I will say this, I did find myself sorting through the events taking place trying to figure out what was going on… and I was mostly right. But I didn’t feel any real connection to the events on display. The kills were dull and bloodless and they were mainly “featured extras” that were being attacked. Who cares? As for the main characters, for the most part they give fine performances. But the real let down is Donal Logue. I really like this guy. He’s a talented actor but for some reason, he comes across very stiff and just uncomfortable in this role. But then again, he is given very little to do aside from being a murder suspect.

Oh, did I happen to mention Shane West is in this? And guess what? He’s not bad at all. But one of the most frustrating and ridiculous plot points is that he plays Street (?), Detective Chandler’s younger partner, and Chandler is always making comments about how the Streetman is gay. That is - and I’m giving away a plot point here - until it is revealed Street is married to a woman. All this does is make Chandler look like even more of a self-absorbed moron who has no clue about anything or anyone. I hate this character. He can’t solve a case and his family hates him. But this isn’t Mr. Molina’s fault, he does his best. I guess all the “could of worked” and the “should of worked“ are a mute point when all you have is a lousy script that lacks any semblance of suspense, tension and believability. It is cliché filled and tends to be just a bland exercise in patience for the audience. I recommend checking out the 1944 film starring Merle Oberon and George Sanders or Hitchcock’s own 1926 version if you’d like to see a classic tale told in classic form; as opposed to this lifeless and bland remake.
Video / Audio
Video: This 1.85:1 Widescreen transfer works well enough.

Audio: The 5.1 Dolby Digital is quite good at bringing us a surprisingly strong score for this mediocre film.
The Extras
The Special Features include a series of Deleted and Alternate Scenes which include “Confrontation at the Sheriff’s Station”, “Alternate “Don’t Wake the Lodger”, “Outside the Psychiatric Hospital”, “Called to the Morgue”, “Smith Enters without Warning”, “Alternate Chandler and Street Talk in the Car”, “Chandler and the Paramedic”, “Ellen Walks to the Backyard (Body-Camera Angle)” and “Ellen in the Rocking Chair (Body-Camera Angle)” and not a one really add anything to the film, thus they were cut out. These are much too short to be all that interesting. As for the Body-Camera Angle shots, I think they can be interesting, and it might have been a nice touch to keep a little more of that with the specific character they are used for.

Next up we have Beyond the Shadows: Behind the Scenes of The Lodger (18:30) which gives a glimpse into the mindset of making a Hitchcockian thriller. It is a typical making of feature where the talent is interviewed and tells us how interesting the film is. And actually, I did appreciate what the director had to say, he seemed to really want to pay homage to the master of suspense. This is not a bad feature, although it seems a bit too self-congratulatory.

Finishing up, we have Trailers for Sony Blu-ray discs, “The Poker Club”, “The Grudge 3”, “Vacancy 2: The First Cut”, “Against the Dark”, “Boogeyman 3”, “Red Sands”, “The Librarian 3: The Curse of the Judas Curse”, “Elegy”, “The Messengers 2: The Scarecrow”, “REC”, “Anacondas: Trail of Blood”, “Screamers: The Hunting”, “Deep Winter”, “Quarantine”, “Passengers”, “Rachel Getting Married”, “Breaking Bad”, “Buried Alive” and “Fearnet.com”. Damn! How many trailers can you put on one disc?
Last Call
The Lodger is a remake that should have been remade much better or not remade at all. It is filled with clichéd caricatures and a bunch of red herrings that are neither interesting or exciting. I had a feeling I knew where the film was going, although I was a bit surprised at where it went. But it was fairly preposterous and there is a whole lot of suspension of disbelief needed for it to work. It is too bad because Mr. Ondaatje had a talented cast and a fairly good eye for a pretty picture, too bad it felt so empty inside. Luckily, there was a good DP here (David A. Armstrong) and a pretty effective score from John Frizzell. Other than that, this is a bland exercise in… eh, whatever. Oh yeah, Rachel Leigh Cook shows up looking pretty cute too… so there ya go.
ARROW IN THE HEAD'S RATING SYSTEM
star star star star I'D BUTCHER MY FAMILY TO SEE THIS AGAIN
star star star HANG ME BUT I DUG IT A LOT
star star AN OK WAY TO KILL TWO HOURS
star JUST SLING AN ARROW IN MY HEAD AND LET ME DIE IN PEACE

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