The Lodge tells the tale of a small family trying to recover from a recent tragedy. When the father leaves his kids with their new step-mom, inexplicable events begin to occur. This concept sounds and is rather interesting, and for the most part it’s executed quite well.
The Lodge is a slow burn horror movie layered with themes of religion, family, and legacy. Its presentation is solid, using the archetypes from movies like The Thing and Hereditary. The isolated feeling of being trapped in the snow mixed with unease of not knowing what is real or who to trust makes for a compelling and interesting movie going experience. The performances from everybody involved is top notch. From newcomer Lia McHugh to veterans like Alicia Silverstone, everyone gives their A-Game.
Each character’s backstory (for two-thirds of the movie, at least) is compelling. Grace just wants to be a good step mom for Aidan and Mia, but Aidan and Mia blame Grace for their mom’s death. Grace is also trying to overcome her own personal demons as she came from a family run by a cult.
Another great aspect about this movie is how it’s presented. As I mentioned before, The Lodge takes place in the snow and has this feeling of claustrophobia set throughout. The production designers really nailed the old wooden house feeling, but credit really has to go to cinematographer Thimios Bakatakis, whose shots are absolutely beautiful. They range from unnerving close-ups to beautifully haunting landscapes. I’m sure this isn’t surprising to those of you who know how slow-burn horror movies play out, as cinematography is usually one of the best aspects of those movies.
I haven’t even touched upon the film’s horror/thriller elements. For the most part, I found myself genuinely terrified. From creepy imagery of The Virgin Mary to the dark snowy silhouettes that plagued the home, there is a lot that’ll wrack your nerves for most of the runtime. As I mentioned prior, this movie pulls its inspiration from films like The Thing and Hereditary, even containing easter eggs and references of those two entries within its iconography.
There is seriously a lot that works about The Lodge, but unfortunately there is a lot here that holds this movie back from being great. Specifically, there’s just a lot going on and, at an hour and forty minute runtime, can’t contain all the content that it is trying to convey. So while I can appreciate all that The Lodge tries to accomplish storywise, in the end, I don’t feel like it was able to live up to the brilliant storylines it was setting up. But where this movie really suffers is its twist.
The twist, while brilliant and cruel, happens too far from the ending. By that point, there is still a solid twenty to thirty minutes left and, due to the contents of said twist, it kind of ruins the rest of the movie. You don’t care what happens to anybody because you no longer see any of the characters as good people. It was a twist that could have been better suited for the ending, rather than the end of the second act.
What’s more frustrating is how the aftertaste of that twist plays into the horror in the third act. There are some beautifully tense scenes with a gun, but because I couldn’t care what happened to any of the characters, the terror on screen felt like nothing. Even the ending, which should be absolutely horrifying, comes across as tacky and standard. Unfortunately, it isn’t just the third act that suffers from horror problems. The Lodge‘s sound is edited in a few scenes to set up jumpscares. These scenes can be sensed from a mile away, so you end up feeling annoyed and even roll your eyes once the loud “BWONG” noise hits. There are quite a few found throughout The Lodge and they end up feeling cheap, each and every time.
Verdict: 3.5 out of 5 Stars
The Lodge does succeed in doing a lot of things right. By all accounts, it’s an above-average horror movie with brilliant cinematography and engaging performances from the entire cast. But that second act twist, combined with the lackluster jumpscares and slightly overstuffed plot, make for a horrifying, yet also disappointing, experience. You’ll find yourself entertained for most of it and the twist is forgivable if you’re willing to root for horrible people to die. But don’t go in expecting a masterpiece.