By Christian DiMartino
Not much good has come from 2020. However, at least we have The Lodge.
That is not to say that this film will lift the spirits. Oh no, it will not do that. Yet here is a film with big ideas, all of which work well, and yet it’s also genuinely unsettling and intriguing. I feel its flaws within it- they are are- but there is something so well crafted here that I cannot just write it off.
The film opens with two genuinely surprising elements. The first being that Alicia Silverstone is in it. The second… well, I wouldn’t dream of revealing that. Anyways, it’s around Christmas time, and a dad (Richard Armitage) suggests that his two kids (Jaedan Martell of It and Lia McHugh) spend time with Grace (Riley Keough), his fiance, spend Christmas with Grace at a cabin in the middle of nowhere, hoping that the three of them will bond. Yes, the three of them, because dad has to work and what not.
Now, as someone watching the movie, you can imagine why this may not work. What you do not know, because I am withholding information, is that the kids, not so secretly, have a hatred for Grace for tearing their family apart, and have no intention of getting to know her. The second factoid I must mention is that Grace comes from a religious background. Not an issue… except that she is the sole survivor of a religious mass suicide, led by her father, and that said cabin belongs to her family.
As Scooby Doo would say, ruh-roh.
The kids, of course, join Grace for this get-together. They, of course, want nothing to do with her. But things get strange. Grace begins hearing her father’s voice echo throughout the house. Her belongings, as well as the kids, begin to go missing. Eventually, they are at each other’s throats, and… I will not reveal anymore.
I meant to catch this film while it was in theatres earlier this year, but not only was it only in theatres a brief amount of time, but theatres were only open… well, a brief amount of time. The Lodge is a film that, within minutes, I knew I was going to have to revisit. Not only was I going to have to revisit it, but I would revisit it because I want to. Here is a film that is so unsettling, it even caused me, who is not easily scared, to turn on the lights. It was after midnight, and I was a lone. Gimme a break.
At first, I had a slight resistance to this material because it felt just a little too similar to Hereditary. The opening minutes focus on a house, which, it turns out, is a miniature, not to mention, it leads to something similarly shocking. The Lodge isn’t exactly the epitome of original, but here is a film that takes what we’ve seen before and it works with it. It’s eerie, it’s bizarre, it’s miserable, it’s creepy, and it’s a lot to wrap your mind around. Hence, why I already want to return to it.
I used to write horror films off. For the longest time, the assumption was that any new horror movie was trash. Perhaps it was because far too many of them catered to teenie-bopper audiences that I wanted to steer clear of. Make no mistake, those movies are still out there. Yet horror has really come a long way the past 10 years. Look at something like The Conjuring, It, Doctor Sleep, The VVitch, It Follows, Midsommar, The Invisible Man, Hereditary, etc. Each of these films have really done their best to step up the genre and make it worth mentioning again.
These films also, I must say, bring out pretty great performances, and the same can be said about The Lodge. The cast here kills, but this is, in the end, Keough’s film. She’s been on my radar for a while now- if her and Kristen Stewart did a movie together, I may not be able to tell them apart- but finally she’s front and center, and she of course has the most interesting character. Grace is someone that you do not know whether or not to be scared of her, or feel for her. Considering her background, you’ll probably just be scared, but she also seems like a nice enough person… who is also nutty. The intrigue surrounding this character alone makes The Lodge worth seeing.