Mix cabin fever with extreme grief, add a pinch of mental abuse and you have Veronika Franz and Severin Fiala’s The Lodge. A psychological horror movie that takes place in a remote lodge, this film takes twists and turns that can lead to some collective gasps from the audience. Even at 108 minutes, this film is a hell of a ride.
Immediately the cinematography sets the tone of the film. Very minute zooms and often a feeling of claustrophobia, even in the shots that take place in wide open areas. Where lots of movies tend to get lost in where they want to go, The Lodge knows exactly the story it wants to tell and tells it with confidence. All of the elements that you’d search for in a thriller movie looking to keep you tense and confused throughout are prevalent here.
I’m going to keep this as spoiler-free as possible as I think as much of the moments, big or small, in this film deserve to be discovered upon first viewing. However, on the surface, Grace (Riley Keough) spends a weekend at a family lodge to acquaint herself with her boyfriend’s kids, Aidan (Jaeden Martell) and Mia (Lia McHugh). With cinematography being handled by Thimios Bakatakis, who tends to shoot with Yorgos Lanthimos, with his last credit being The Killing of a Sacred Deer, you can already get a feel for how this film will look and feel beyond just the script. Things are slow and methodical and built to keep a slow rumble the entire time you’re watching. There are some leaps in logic here or there, but they can go largely ignored in the grand scheme of things.
ACTING | CHARACTERS | DIALOGUE:
Right off the bat, Riley Keough does an absolutely stellar job driving this story. Her performance and range is superb and I had a good time watching the metamorphosis she undergoes in her arc in the film. Jaeden Martell is also quickly making a name for himself with It and Knives Out now under his belt. Martell’s chemistry as the older brother for Lia McHugh’s character is also played off of well. You get the feeling that those two are very close out the gate and really leaves no room for doubt. The trio really do so much with what they’re given.
VISUAL EFFECTS | MAKEUP | DESIGN:
MUSIC | SCORE | SOUND DESIGN:
A lodge in the middle of winter only has a few routes to make you understand exactly how it should sound. Constant wind and an echo-chamber of small noises that seem so, so loud. The biggest plus I’ll give this, is they largely escaped without jump scares. The laziness of “silence… LOUD NOISE” is something I loathe the most in cinema. There were a few jump scares, but for other reasons other than that repeated trope.
The score is implemented beautifully. It melts in the background and adds the emotion where it needs to be. Tense moment coming up? Tense music without becoming the sole focus cues up. This is exactly how every horror movie should pursue its music.
Over the course of your hour and a half with The Lodge you’ll see a lot of wear and tear in characters and it’s all extremely well done. Clothes start to get baggy, characters look tired and have visible marks on them over time. There are a few moments where found footage is used and it only amplifies the mood of the film when supplements by the claustrophobia and urgency among the characters.
"They Really Just Did That."
Genre: Drama. Horror. Thriller.
After being subject to some not so amazing horror movies in 2020 so far, The Lodge comes in to remind us that smart and well done horror without an over-reliance on old and bad tropes can still be done. All actors fire on all cylinders. The setting is such a perfectly executed vision. I’ll end on this: do you ever have that moment where you know a film is about to end but you can feel that the movie wants to drag this on for another five minutes? Have you ever been there repeating in your head: “please end, please end, please end” not out of malice, but hoping for a ballsy ending, one that surely would go badly in test audiences, but would be a well done mic drop? That’s where I was when approaching the end of this movie. Well, I was doing just that with The Lodge and it did it. It ended and a spot I thought was absolutely perfect. I know some of my audience wasn’t happy, but I couldn’t have been more elated. Strong pushes in narrative throughout the film were ubiquitous even in the last seconds of the movie and that’s when I fell in love with it.