The directing duo Veronika Franz and Severin Fiala have dropped another traumatizing film into the bucket of horror with “The Lodge.” The same duo constructed “Goodnight Mommy” in 2014, which is known for being unsettling for the entirety of its run time. “The Lodge” starts off extremely bland, mostly because it pulls from movies like “Hereditary” and “The Shining” a little too much, but once it establishes itself, the movie solidifies as the best movie of 2020 so far.
Where do I even start? This movie is impossible to digest in just one viewing. The acting in this movie is super solid — led by Riley Keough (Grace), Jaeden Martell (Aidan) and the standout Lia McHugh (Mia). The acting from this trio transcends the movie in a way not all actors could have accomplished. The cinematography is beautiful, with shots that can make you feel claustrophobic in seconds. The music in this movie makes a huge presence, taking certain scenes to a whole new level of sadistic. So, all the technical aspects checked all the boxes, but what about the story?
I think the story could have been stronger, but I am completely satisfied with what was presented. Every time I felt like I was about to be disappointed by a horror cliché, or suspected a crease in the story, the movie kept me on my toes and smoothed out the creases while managing to terrify me at the same exact time. The horror was also surprisingly pleasant — or as pleasant as horror can be. By that, I mean the movie does not settle for cop-out jump scares and instead leans more toward unsettling imagery, with the occasional jump scare to make sure the audience is still awake. This movie is a slow burn and if you are not invested in the first 15 minutes, this may not be for you.
Religion is a topic that should be handled carefully, especially in horror. One mishandled message, classless joke or stereotype and you upset a huge portion of your audience. Does this movie handle it with care? Absolutely not. I think that may disadvantage the film because you can sense that the filmmakers did not really explore all the themes they had wanted. That being said, the reliance on the performances pick up a lot of the slack and cover up most of the logical fallacies. There is so much conflict between every single character and it creates a devastating experience that takes a lot of will power to sit through.
There is no real protagonist or antagonist. Every character in this movie commits acts of good and evil, and it is up to the audience to decide who the “good guy” is. Lastly, the story leaves a lot up for interpretation, while also leaving a few traces of plot holes. The movie doesn’t hold your hand to explain the big twists. At the same time, though, it does not take a rocket scientist to understand the complexities the film presents.
In conclusion, this movie is a gut punch that will make you immediately want to call your mom and tell her you love her. It is mentally deteriorating to see so many sad events transpire in such a short amount of time. On the other hand, it is considered a Christmas movie, so if you get tired of watching Will Ferrell in tights running around New York City, you can pour yourself a nice cup of hot chocolate, bake some cookies, and watch this movie about a family that, arguably, has the worst Christmas ever.
Final rating: 3.5/5
Featured image: Courtesy IMDB