The Lodge is a psychological horror film that was directed by Veronika Franz and Severin Fiala. Originally, it was due for release in 2019. However, this was pushed back to early 2020 instead. Riley Keough plays soon to be step-mother Grace. Aiden & Mia are devastated after their mother commits suicide. 6 months later they travel to the family cabin with Grace and their father, Richard. They become stranded when Richard leaves to go to work, he plans to return on Christmas Day. Soon enough, they are subjected to a series of unexplained events. Those of which seem to be connected to Grace and her past in a suicide cult.
Raised in the cult, Grace was the sole survivor of their mass suicide, led by her father. Richard met her while researching a book about the extremist Christian cult. At the cabin, Grace immediately becomes uneasy due to the abundance of religiously themed paintings. Unbeknownst to Grace, the children witnessed video footage of the cult. It showed the deceased followers draped in purple silk with duct tape across their mouths reading “sin.” They act hostile toward Grace and refuse efforts to bond with her.
Grace awakens to discover that her belongings – including her clothing, psychiatric medication and pet dog are missing. Also, all the food and Christmas decorations have been removed. The generator has gone out, leaving all of their cell phones dead. Grace suspects the children have pranked her but finds their belongings missing as well. She notices the clocks have advanced to January 9. Aidan tells Grace he dreamed the gas heater malfunctioned and they all suffocated, and expresses fear that they may be in the afterlife.
Over the next several days, Grace begins succumbing to anxiety, medication withdrawal, hunger, and cold. She starts sleepwalking and is tormented by disturbing visions and dreams. They mostly focus on the recurrent voice of her father sermonizing. With her mental state dwindling and the kids convinced that they are dead, what will happen? Check out The Lodge to find out.
The Lodge has a truly excellent set-up for a horror film. Unfortunately, it’s let down in a number of ways. Firstly, this is one hell of a slow and depressing movie. The shocking opening with the mother shooting herself sets that tone nicely. The atmosphere and feeling of isolation and tension it manages to create is wonderful. It’s compelling to witness the events unfold. When the twists are delivered, they are effective. However, there are some glaring flaws within.
On the whole, there is just something off about the pacing of The Lodge. The reveals work on paper but in execution they fall flat after the initial shock. The truth of the happenings isn’t entirely out of the realms of possibility. Still, it’s clear to anyone that it went way too far. The extent that it goes to and the lives that are risked, it felt a bit too much. It’s even more painful when you consider how easily it all could have been solved. Aspects like a certain newspaper article go unexplained.
Also, it must be said that Richard leaving the kids alone with Grace in the first place was pretty dumb. I know she’s supposed to be doing well but come on man. He isn’t even aware that she’s taking medication. Didn’t he think all that religious imagery could be triggering? He even shows her where he keeps his gun….
I liked Grace as a protagonist. She’s a victim so it’s easy to sympathise with her. Ultimately, she is pushed too far. It would have been nice to see her defeat the demons. Unfortunately, this isn’t that type of film. I couldn’t help but feel frustration at the lack of fight during the ending. Still, Riley Keough delivers a praise worthy performance. In fact, as does everyone else too.
Where would the horror genre be without God or Religion eh? I would really have liked to see more of the cult in flashbacks. Perhaps some scenes with Grace and her father. The Lodge has some interesting cinematography that is clearly inspired by Ari Aster.
Overall, The Lodge left me feeling not really knowing what to think. Clearly, that is a failure on its behalf. It has so much potential and does so much right but it equally does a little too much wrong at the same time. It deserves praise for its focus on atmosphere and tension rather than cheap scares. If you leave your brain at the door in terms of its narrative then you’ll have a less headache inducing time.
The Final Score - 6/10
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