Stranded in a snow-covered lodge with her future stepchildren, a woman fears the horrific events of her childhood have come back to haunt her. Starring Riley Keough, Jaeden Martell, and Lia McHugh, The Lodge holds firm on its promise of psychological horror, throwing the audience into a mind-bending story that will have you as shaken as its characters.
To encourage bonding between his children and new fiancé Grace (Keough), Richard (Richard Armitage) drives the bunch up to a remote lodge for the Christmas holiday. The kids dislike Grace for many reasons but become worried after they uncover her dark past as the sole survivor of a cult. Shortly after arriving, Richard is called back to the city due to work and leaves Grace in charge of Aidan (Martell) and Mia (McHugh).
Grace’s childhood trauma has followed her into adulthood, and she is unnerved by the many religious pieces found within the home. With the three of them stuck alone, they begin to experience unsettling occurrences — the food and Grace’s medication go missing, they lose power, and strange voices can be heard. They worry that something from Grace’s past has come back, and as it eats away at her sanity, they realize they may have underestimated its impact.
What I loved about the original trailer for this film was the air of mystery behind it, as it leaned more on the intensity of the unknown. The film itself very much holds true to that in terms of unwrapping a story that is entirely unexpected from beginning to end. A sense of unease washes over the film and further develops in a more complex way than imagined.
It’s certainly nothing new to create a film with a group secluded in a cabin. But The Lodge bares no resemblance to films of the past. It relies on the chilly snow-covered landscape to induce dread while having the lodge feel like an embrace of comfort. As the story progresses, that same wintry chill spills from the screen, engrossing the viewer, and you’ll find yourself grasping for any semblance of warmth within the narrative.
Few films can really shake you, and this one unnerves you in a way that feels new. Keough delivers a truly mesmerizing performance, with her ability to take the viewer on wildly different rides throughout — wavering from empathy to fear. The same goes for Martell as well, who’s proving to be a force within the horror genre. It’s a film that deals with some heavy material that is constantly changing direction, and the cast beautifully—and terrifyingly—amplifies the experience.
I did find myself pulling away from the film in the second act, as things pick up in a way that aims to disorient the viewer, just like our characters. It plays with the notion of what’s real or a mind-bending trick. I found that my hesitation washed away as the film started to unwrap and reveal its true layers. There’s a bit of ambiguity to it that I feel viewers may be keener to upon a second watch.
The Lodge is psychological gymnastics — almost slightly like Hereditary. It’s not a film that will tie up anything in a neat bow for you and is one that leaves you with a lot to process. It’s also one that will sit differently from person to person but offers excellent pieces of discussion.
The Lodge is currently available on Hulu