Wikipedia Description: The Lodge is a 2019 psychological horror film…Its plot follows a soon-to-be stepmother who, alone with her fiancé’s two children, becomes stranded at their rural lodge during Christmas. There, she and the children experience a number of unexplained events that seem to be connected to her past.”

Expectations

I thought that the director’s previous film, Goodnight Mommy (2015), was a solid, atmospheric thriller with some enjoyable twists and a spooky vibe throughout. So, I was excited to see what they would do in their follow-up.

From the first reviews and what I’ve heard first-hand since, The Lodge was a moody and (in some vague way) twisted horror with some impressive performances, so my expectations were quite high.

Why I Took It Off the List

Like Come to Daddy (2019), which I reviewed earlier in the year, The Lodge was one of the films I was most excited about seeing at the 2019 Sitges Film Festival, but never got round to.

As the 2020 version of the festival is now over, I thought I check out a film I missed from an earlier addition. Also, everything I’d heard about The Lodge indicated that it was a worthy horror to check out in the run-up to Halloween!

Spoilers? Nope, I’ll try to steer clear of spoilers, as there are quite a few surprises that are best discovered for oneself.

Review of The Lodge

The best thing about The Lodge is the intense claustrophobia and sense of looming insanity that the film manages to pull off with its atmospheric visuals and carefully paced narrative, and at some points even manages to reach Kubrick’s The Shining.

Like Post Mortem (2020), which I saw at Sitges this year, it also has strong shades of Alejandro Amenebar’s The Others (2001), particularly in one impressively disturbing sequence towards the end of the film.

Nevertheless, The Lodge carves out its own identity from its rather basic premise by ratcheting up a series of softly disquieting events and confrontations before unveiling an almost unbelievably cruel twist late in the game.

Keough Is Impressive

I think I’d only really seen Riley Keough in the awesome Mad Max: Fury Road (2015) and the underrated It Comes at Night (2017), and have to say her supporting turns didn’t really make a huge impression.

But as protagonist Grace (another The Others similarity), she gets to run through a full range of opposing states, from good-natured and restrained, to mildly irritable, to full-on mania and despair by the end of the film.

Elsewhere, the kids are convincing and Richard Armitage and Alicia Silverstone both do solid work in small supporting turns. At the end of the day, though, it really is Keough’s show, and it’s immensely entertaining to see her steal it.

Has Plenty of Wickedly Shocking Surprises

Not unlike Amulet (2020), which I reviewed a couple of weeks ago, The Lodge largely sticks to one setting but makes use of flashes to the troubled protagonist’s previous life in another place.

I would argue that The Lodge does this much more successfully, as the intrusions into the past are presented more as ghostly phenomena that may or may not be in the main character’s head, an ambiguity that works tremendously in the film’s favor.

I particularly appreciated a decision made early in the film, in the scene with the kids pictured above, to introduce what at first seems a random and wild piece of background about one of the characters that eventually pays off dividends in the tension and uncertainty this information generates.

The mounting strange events that the characters experience are smartly rooted in psychological horror and the film frequently lulls into a deceptively slow pace, making the shocks all more surprising when they do come.

There are a couple of scenes that I won’t easily be able to get out of my head any time soon, and the twist that sets off the tense climax, love it or hate it, is impressively dark.

Final Score: 8/10

Worth Checking Out?

Yes, fans of psychological horror will find much to admire in The Lodge, from the tense setting and moody tone to the dark story beats to Keough’s commendable full-on breakdown performance.

The Lodge (2019)

Directed by Severin Fiala, Veronika Franz

Written by Sergio Casci, Severin Fiala, Veronika Franz

Cast: Riley Keough, Jaeden Martell, Lila McHugh

Check back soon for my next horror film review in the run-up to Halloween!

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