Directed by: Severin Fiala and Veronika Franz
Premise: A father (Richard Armitage) takes his two children (Jaeden Martell and Lia McHugh) and his girlfriend (Riley Keough) to an isolated cabin for Christmas. When the father is called back to town, mysterious things start happening around the cabin.
What Works: The Lodge is a horror film that successfully manipulates the audience’s empathy and expectations. The film uses red herrings but not in a way that is obnoxious; The Lodge begins by suggesting that it will be one sort of film and then becomes something else and late in the movie it turns again to become a different kind of story. The film transitions abruptly but smoothly from one section to the next because the turns in the action are so well set up. This is not an intricately plotted movie but The Lodge is well thought out with clues set up and paid off so that the turns in the story feel natural while maintaining their surprise. The mystery of The Lodge works as well as it does because the characters are so vivid. The film is primarily about the stepmom-to-be played by Riley Keough but it’s a while before she enters the story. Instead, the opening is dedicated to the children played by Jaeden Martell and Lia McHugh. The kids are sympathetic so that they are more than just brats. Their parents are divorced and their mother dies suddenly. This event sets up the children as sympathetic and poisons their relationship with their prospective stepmother. Riley Keough’s character also has a tragic backstory which is revealed gradually. When these three are left alone in the cabin, mysterious events start to occur that might be a prank or a delusion or it might be supernatural; the filmmakers have set up the characters and their backstories in such a way that any explanation is plausible and each subsequent revelation changes the way we understand the characters. The way the filmmakers toy with the audience’s sympathies is complicated but it works in part because of the plot but also because the performances are tremendous and capitalize on the complexity in the material. The Lodge also has quite a bit of atmosphere. The winter setting is cold and barren and the inside of the cabin is shot in a way that suggests claustrophobia.
What Doesn’t: The Lodge is a mystery, as it toys with whether the phenomena around the house is supernatural or not. When the truth is finally revealed it creates a number of credibility problems. The characters are so well drawn and the drama is so involving that the logical problems aren’t distracting while watching the movie the first time but the implausibilities become more obvious while thinking the story through after it’s over.
DVD extras: None.
Bottom Line: The Lodge is an impressive horror picture. The movie may not be a loud shocker but it successfully combines a haunted house story with psychological terror to keep the viewer engaged. One of the better titles in the recent boom in the horror genre, The Lodge offers a lot to dissect after it is over.
Episode: #802 (May 31, 2020)