It’s hard to talk about “The Lodge” without giving away too much, but it manages to be more of a haunting drama in the end, than a horror movie about the supernatural. What Severin Fiala and Veronika Franz do is examine the horrors of pure grief and how it can unravel us mentally, and keep us always on the brink of breaking and submitting to pure disturbing madness. “The Lodge” is sure to keep audiences talking, mainly for its incredibly beautiful production design, and absolutely meticulous direction that will draw parallels to “Hereditary.”
After the loss of their mother (Alicia Silverstone), father Richard (Richard Armitage) decides to take his family to a remote snow covered cabin for a Christmas get away. When he is forced to abruptly depart for work for two days, he leaves his children, Aidan (Jaeden Martell) and Mia (Lia McHugh) in the care of his new girlfriend, Grace (Riley Keough). Isolated and alone, a blizzard traps the trio inside the lodge as terrifying events summon specters from Grace’s dark past with a religious cult, putting Aidan and Mia in jeopardy.
“The Lodge” really is a wonderful exploration of the effects of grief and how we can tend to process it and often times even carry the burden of it on to others with immense malice. The film’s setting is very representative of the inherent emotions behind this foursome as they’re forced to interact while harbouring intense feelings that should be better left unspoken. There is so much festering within this family, especially as we meet Grace, the protagonist of the film, who is also attempting to overcome her own form of grief and guilt. The way that the roles of mother and father are explored is fascinating as Fiala and Franz frame every shot as to meticulously convey a sense of psychological transference and the awkward shifting of maternal roles.
There’s no grand entrance for Grace who is tasked with getting to know two children who lost their mother under rather enormous circumstances. Aian and Mia also have to bear the burden of going to what was once a place of happiness with their mother, with a new woman, and there’s obvious resentment, even as she walks on egg shells around them. There’s a particularly cringe worthy moment involving ice skating and a red hat. The more she manages to obtain the majority if the film’s dramatic weight and horror, the deeper she digs herself in to the demons of her past, and the narrative shifts over and over again. It soon begins to ask us not if the children are safe with Grace, but if Grace is safe with them. The genius behind “The Lodge” is the creeping terror and absolute absence of jump scares and sudden jolts.
The directors instead focus on the immense tension and hopelessness, as well as the deep rooted mystery that develops. The overall film is complimented by the spectacular performance by Riley Keough. If anything, she deserves to be celebrated for such a complex and morally ambiguous performance. In spite of that, the film’s pacing is glacial, to the point where it feels like it’s dragging its feet in certain instances. This may just be the element that splits horror audiences overall. That said, “The Lodge” is a rich cinematic experience, with a haunting narrative that stuck with me long after its finale.
Opens in New York and Los Angeles on February 7th; Expanding to Select Markets on February 14th and 21st with additional markets to Follow. Check Screening Schedules for More Information.