Mike’s Review: The Lodge (2019)

❄❄❄❄❄ out of ❄❄❄❄❄

Directed by Veronika Franz and Severin Fiala

2017 gave us Get Out.  2018 gave us Heriditary.  2019’s dive in to intellectual terror is the Lodge. Just as its forefathers were dark, brooding, thought-provoking, and terrifying, so is this year’s entry in to the new age of thinky-horror.  Note: thinky-horror is not yet an industry-accepted term, but you heard it here first. 

The Lodge, a Hammer (yes, that Hammer) produced film, stars none-other-than Alicia Silverstone and the daughter of Lisa Marie Presley (yes, that Lisa Marie Presley), Riley Keough. Pulling no punches and having no concern for the audience’s emotional well-being, The Lodge starts off with a bang and never looks back.  The film throws you smack-dab in to the middle of a family in crisis, faced with looming divorce, a new step mom, and deep-seated animosities.  The animosities, mind you, aren’t held by a single family member, oh no, they’re held by Mom, Dad, Brother, Sister, and Step Mom.  No one’s pleased with each other and The Lodge lets you know it. 

ATMOSfx! Woo!
Step mom Grace checking in on the kids.

The other slice of brilliance that The Lodge serves up is the premise and the setting of said premise.  Trying desperately to keep some semblance of normality, the father Richard (Richard Armitage) decides to manufacture a faux bonding session with his kids Aiden (Jaeden Martell) and Mia (Lia McHugh) and their soon-to-be step mom Grace (Riley Presley). Before the family sets out for the family lodge, the filmmakers very deftly and subtly let the audience in on a dark secret — along with being Grace’s lover, Richard might just also be treating her for some psychological damage…and, and, and, that damage may be the result of the fact that Grace is the sole survivor of a whacked-out Christian suicide cult.

The group sets out in the dead of winter for the bucolic family cabin (AKA lodge) in the woods.  However, almost immediately upon their arrival the father, Richard, announces that he’s got work to tend to back in the city and the kids and their new step get to hang and bond — one on one.  The kids are having none of their father’s kind, but wrong-headed, offer.  Grace is not a particularly strong motherly presence and kids are ultimately unreceptive to her kindness.  Almost as soon as Richard is out the door, the flood of Christian suicide cult memories and visions begin to cloud Grace’s already fragile constitution.  The kids not only choose not to help Grace through her ever-evolving crisis, they actually choose to be petty and particularly unwelcoming to their step mother to be.

As The Lodge slowly burns its way in to the third act, Grace’s psychosis becomes frighteningly heightened.  Her visions become sharper and the memories of the Christian suicide cult begin to manifest themselves all over the family lodge.  As a nasty storm sets in, the anxiety and tensions between Grace and the kids continue to mount and Richard is no where to be found. The clock continually resets itself to January 9.  Newspaper obituaries about the kids and Grace begin to appear.  Grace’s sleep becomes prolonged and coma-like.  And then…the power and water goes out.  Stuck waist-deep in snow with no water, no food, and a delicate set of relationships, Grace and the kids are now forced to come to terms with each other’s motives. 

Eventually, directors Veronika Franz and Severin Fiala ethereally unpack Grace’s psychosis in possibly the darkest and most vile ways possible.  Far more dark than Hereditary and far more disturbing than Get Out, the Lodge ends in an awful and detestable way. While terrifying and dark, the ending of The Lodge is a smart slice of filmmaking that was clearly not focus-grouped, that had singular purpose, and is a film that is ultimately powerful and glum.  Make no mistake, the Lodge is a horror film that will stick with you for years to come.  The imagery, the darkness, and the family decay might just have you second-guessing this year’s 4th of July picnic invite from Uncle Richard and Aunt Grace.  

The Lodge isn’t rated, but we’re going with a hard R. The Lodge will be released in the U.S. on June 15.

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