Lulling About With ‘The Lodge’

by Ben Martin

Back in early February, shortly before the closure of movie theaters, the independent horror film The Lodge received a limited release after performing well on the festival circuit. As you might expect, The Lodge came-and-went, grossing a little over $2.6 million at the global box-office — a figure which I can only assume is a small success considering I could not track down the film’s production budget. In any event, The Lodge has recently hit home video; a format which should benefit the flick considering its cabin fever content.
The Lodge is about a woman named Grace (Riley Keough), who has finally found a new lease on life despite growing up in a suicide cult. As an adult, she’s now mere months away from marrying Richard (Richard Armitage) and becoming a stepmom to his two adolescent children, Aidan (Jadeen Martell) and Mia (Lia McHugh). Unfortunately for Grace, the kids are as cold to her as the forthcoming winter weather they’re all about to experience. As a result, Richard thinks it would be a good idea for his new wife and the children to spend a few days alone together in the family’s mountain lodge while he wraps up some business before joining them. But before long, this proto-family time takes a dark turn.

When it comes to my thoughts on this film, I should make something clear to any potential viewers out there: your enjoyment of The Lodge or lack thereof is probably going to be highly dependent on what kind of movie you’re expecting to get. Despite being marketed as a horror film, the movie is instead a dark domestic drama with suspenseful elements. 
In my experience with it, I can clearly see some parallels between this flick and Hereditary (feel free to check out my review here). The difference, though, is that Hereditary manages to be just as much of a horror film as it is a domestic drama. Whereas The Lodge is a drama that merely flirts with the idea of being a horror story. A fact which is apparent in the film’s abundant call-outs to genre influences like The Shining (1980) and The Thing (1982). Much like those classics, The Lodge does manage to build a similar atmosphere of dread through its cinematography by Thimios Bakatakis (The Killing of a Sacred Deer). Alas, this sensation does not manage to sustain itself due to the film’s molasses-like pacing.

While the entire cast gives it their all performance-wise, only the kids convinced me they could be real people. Meanwhile, the adult couple, Grace and Richard, are simply ridiculous. She comes across as so distant from reality that it is evident that she’s still nuttier than an almond factory. Thus, it’s utterly unbelievable that Richard leaves his kids solely in her care, even if this character is the worst on-screen husband and father I’ve seen in years.

Now, in closing, I must give directing duo Severin Fiala and Veronika Franz (Goodnight Mommy) credit for crafting a competently made film. In doing so, I suppose the directors achieved their finished vision of the screenplay they co-authored with screenwriter Sergio Casci. And there’s something to be said for that, despite my finding the completed film to be insufferably dull. Still, considering The Lodge pertains to cabin fever, I’ve no doubt it will benefit from home quarantine viewing for some.

The Lodge (2020) is available for purchase on rental on streaming services (including Hulu),  Blu-Ray, & DVD!

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