The Lodge

A soon-to-be-stepmom is snowed in with her fiance’s two children at a remote holiday village. Just as relations finally begin to thaw between the trio, strange and frightening events threaten to summon psychological demons from her strict religious childhood.

Being a step parent is, without question, a difficult job. No one knows this more than poor Grace (Riley Keough), who ends up trapped with her fiancé’s children in a cabin during one hell of a snowstorm over a Christmas getaway. About midway through the film, the trio wakes up, and everything in the two-story cabin has been removed. Food, personal belongings, medications, everything is gone, and the large clock in the living room is set to January 9th. Either they have slept for two weeks or there are nasty hi-jinks afoot.

“…soon-to-be-stepmom is snowed in with her fiance’s two children at a remote holiday village.”

In the new horror movie The Lodge writers Severin Fiala, Sergio Casci, Veronika Franz attempt to take the common horror tropes from classic ghost stories and flip them to create something wholly new and original. I hate to say that, for the most part, the film aims high without any believable conclusions, not to mention plot points that are a bit hard to swallow.

The story begins as Richard (Richard Armitage) has fallen in love with Grace, yet his kids, well, not so much. They love their mom as any kid would in this difficult situation. So the only option is to take them all up to the family cabin for Christmas and some seriously isolated family time together. Daddy has to run back to work for a few days, over Christmas, to do work that he cannot do remotely and leaves his kids with his soon-to-be wife. Let’s forget that she, Grace, is the sole survivor of a suicide cult. Let’s ignore that she clearly has some mental health issues. Let’s ignore all of that and just go with it.

“…McHugh and Lieberher gave truly phenomenal performances. These kids can hold their scenes brilliantly.”

WIth a very polished production The Lodge skates by on aesthetics and mood for the first hour after delivering one hell of an opening. We know this movie is deadly serious and has no problem shocking us when we least expect it. Yet it begins to toy with conventions without seeming as if it really knows where it wants to take things.  

To give credit where it is due, Keough does more than her share of work with the material. As the sort of unreliable-ish narrator, maybe, we are kept guessing whether or not to side with her or against her. Additionally, the children Lia McHugh and Jaeden Lieberher gave truly phenomenal performances. These kids can hold their scenes brilliantly.

As a bitter commentary on family, truth, trust, and above all, the religion, The Lodge is a serviceable mood piece that ends up leaving you feeling cold, and not in a good way.

The Lodge (2019) Directed by Severin Fiala, Veronika Franz. Written by  Severin Fiala, Sergio Casci, Veronika Franz. Starring Riley Keough, Richard Armitage, Lia McHugh, Jaeden Lieberher.  The Lodge screened at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival.

5 out of 10 stars

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