Released in 2019, shortly before the start of the pandemic, The Lodge is a movie for our times. Co-directed by Severin Fiala and Veronika Franz, the film centres around a broken family who travel for a holiday at an isolated lodge to try to regain some semblance of normalcy after the mother’s sudden suicide.
After learning that her estranged husband is planning to remarry a younger woman, Laura (played briefly by an almost recognizable Alicia Silverstone), returns home, sits down with a glass of wine, seemingly to reflect on the new reality and abruptly takes her own life in a most graphic fashion. The sudden shift from a mundane moment to horrific situation sets the tone for the rest of film which slowly builds from the innocuous to something unexpected and sinister.
Richard, the father (played by Richard Armitage) tries to pick up the pieces of his broken family by bringing his new fiancé together with his children by organizing a trip to a remote lodge for the Christmas holidays. The plan does not go over well with his kids however as they blame their future step mom for their mother’s death. Grace (played by Riley Keough) is forcibly inserted into the kids’ life despite their vocal objections but Richard is determined to rebuild his family with his young fiancé.
Richard’s son and daughter, Aiden and Mia (played by Jaeden Martell and Lia McHugh) decide to research their future stepmom on the internet and find out about her dark past as the only surviving member of a suicide cult when she was a teenager. They watch video footage she was tasked to film of the deceased cult members who were labelled as sinners with tape covering their mouths. Startled by this discovery, the kids plot a dark plan to punish Grace for their mother’s death that is revealed later in the film.
The Lodge is definitely a slow burn with most of the action taking place in the last 10 minutes of the film. The tension slowly builds as the family begins their journey to the remote lodge though a bleak winter landscape with a foreboding drive reminiscent of the Torrance family’s fateful drive to the Overlook Hotel in The Shining. Richard drops Grace and the kids off at the lodge for some quality time together while he returns to the city for a few days to work, a decision that everyone will soon regret.
Once alone together at the lodge, strange events begin to happen. Their food and belongings disappear, the power goes out and Grace’s dog vanishes. Immediately assuming the kids are behind these events, Grace confronts them but they convincingly deny any involvement. As time goes on, their isolation from society begins to take a toll and tensions grow. It soon becomes apparent that Grace is suffering from some serious psychological issues stemming from her past as a cult member. She sleepwalks around the house at night and becomes increasingly fearful of some religious artifacts around the lodge.
Her psychosis continues to grow as time goes on, fuelled by the cruel tricks played on her by the kids who lead her to believe that they are all in fact dead and are now in purgatory. Grace makes a final attempt to escape the lodge, trekking through the snowy barrens that surrounds them but gives up when she realizes there is no-one else around for miles. When she returns to the Lodge, she discovers the fate of her missing dog which triggers a complete emotional collapse and leads to an explosive and tragic conclusion to the story.
I quite enjoyed The Lodge, the slow but steady building of tension throughout the film and the authenticity of the characters made me care about them and the situation that was unfolding around them. I was particularly impressed by the performance of Riley Keough whose understated performance as the victimized survivor of a cult made me invested in her fate throughout all the strange happenings at the lodge.
The film’s use of subtle clues to foretell the dark events that will unfold at the Lodge was an effective plot device. A dollhouse, Mia’s pet Sea Monkeys and even a scene from John Carpenter’s The Thing that they watch on TV, foreshadow the evil transformation that occurs later in the film. There’s always a sense that something is coming, we just don’t know what.
A tale of isolation and fear of an unknown future, The Lodge feels like an appropriate allegory for the world we currently live in while providing flashes of terror along the way. I would recommend this film for any fans of the horror or suspense genres.
The Lodge is currently available to stream on Amazon Prime Video.
This is my contribution to The Home Sweet Home Blogathon. My maniacal co-blogger has also written an article for the blogathon here. Please check out some of the other contributors by clicking on the image below. Our thanks to Taking Up Room and RealWeegieMidget Reviews for making us feel at home.