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 a psychological horror, throwing the audience right into a mind-bending story that will have you as shaken as its characters.
In an attempt 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 are worried after they had uncovered her dark past as the soul survivor of a cults mass suicide pact. 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 have gone missing, they lose power, and strange voices can be heard. They begin to worry that something from Grace’s past has come back, and as it eats away at her sanity, 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 completely 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, and it relies just as much on the chilly snow-covered landscape, as the embracing comfort of the titular character (I certainly count the lodge as a character). 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 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 as it enters the second act, as things “pick up” in a way that aims to disorient the viewer, just like our characters. It truly plays with the notion of what’s real or a minds trick. I found that hesitation from me washed away as the film begins to unwrap and reveal its true layers. There’s a bit of ambiguity to the film that I feel viewers may be more keen to upon a second watch.
The Lodge is psychological gymnastics, in ways that new giants in the game have come to be known by – think remnants of 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 great pieces of discussion.
The Lodge is currently available on Hulu