Published on March 5th, 2020 | by Dan Nicholls0
The Lodge proves that if you craft a horror film with care, you can create a haunting that stays with audiences for a long time.
Good horror doesn’t have to be splashy or gory to leave a mark – the finest the genre has to offer proves that haunting your mind is a better artistic reward than making you sick to your stomach for an hour and a half. For every The Shining there’s a Hostel but luckily for us the talented directing duo of are becoming pros of the psychological terror found in the former in favor of forsaking the grotesquery of the latter. After the instant jolt of Goodnight Mommy (2014), Fiala and Franz have stepped it up another notch with an immensely unsettling horror that unspools itself with inevitability and unpredictability.
Poor young Aidan (Jaeden Martell) and Mia (Lia McHugh) lose their mother to tragedy and aren’t too pleased with their dad (Richard Armitage) who has moved on with a new girlfriend, Grace (Riley Keough). Things get worse for the grieving children when their pop decides to whisk them off for Christmas to a remote cabin with Grace. Filled with bitter resentment toward her, Aidan and Mia treat Grace like shit from the very first second. It isn’t very long before this holiday winter wonderland goes to hell.
Riley Keough, who happens to be one of the finest young actresses working today, absolutely nails the extreme peaks and valleys of uncertainty that her character goes through. Grace’s backstory is a hand grenade in a thriller minefield that introduces an electric element of suspense to her (and our) mental journey during the course of the film. Young Martell and McHugh stand solid ground alongside Keough and their characters only become more interesting as the movie goes on. From scared and helpless to devilishly bratty, the kids put it all out there and create characters we alternate between rooting for and against.
One of the many striking elements of The Lodge is the cinematography, which finds the contrast in its bleakness and finely tunes the dial to suck us in to this wooden, frozen prison with perhaps one or more unhinged characters. The setting itself amplifies the anxiety that buzzes throughout every scene. In an isolated cabin in a desolate wasteland of snow, no one can hear you have a total nervous breakdown.
Without spoiling anything, the story takes some twists and turns that leave you guessing up until the truth is revealed. By then The Lodge has taken everything it can from Grace and gives the show an ending that’s equally horrifying and tranquilizing (and maybe just a bit gratifying). And the delightfully macabre final shot leaves the scariest part of it all up to your imagination. Horror movies that haunt your mind really are the best, but you get an extra layer of spook when the call comes from inside the house.