Austrian co-writers/co-directors Severin Fiala and Veronika Franz’s follow-up to their feature début Goodnight Mommy is another deeply unnerving psychodramatic horror tale heavy with authentic dread.
The German-language Mommy made quite a splash
internationally, and this continues with some of its themes: scarily close
sibling bonds; questions of identity and religion; and the perils of isolation,
and how the rational mind can turn.
A UK/Canadian/US co-production in English, this opens
with some tricks with a dollhouse (which recall Ari Aster’s Hereditary)
and then introduces us to Laura, as played by no less than Alicia Silverstone,
who’s evidently seriously psychologically fragile. Silverstone, a teen star of
the 1990s, is excellent here, and it’s a little jarring seeing her in such a
dark and despairing role. This ain’t Clueless.
After a long separation, Laura’s investigative
reporter husband Richard (English actor Richard Armitage from The Hobbit
series) is seeking a divorce and wants to marry Grace (Riley Keough), a younger
woman about whom he wrote a book. In Laura’s absence he takes his two
emotionally raw young kids, Aidan (Jaeden Martell) and Mia (Lia McHugh), to an
only-in-the-movies family lodge in snowbound Massachusetts for Christmas, where
he hopes against hope that they will grow to like their soon-to-be-stepmother.
Things are sometimes painfully tense with Richard
actually there, and when he’s forced to return home for a few days due to some
obscure work issue (an undoubtable credibility gap), he leaves Grace and the
kids alone, and they initially pass the time by watching another snap-frozen
horror movie, John Carpenter’s legendary The Thing remake (which, given
that Mia is barely 10 years old, errs on the side of bad parenting). However, a
handful of disturbing spoilers take effect, and we’re left wondering just who
exactly is in danger.
With Danny Bensi and Saunder Jurriaans’ unpredictable
musical score keeping the viewer continually on edge with its sudden strings
and pealing bells, this also benefits greatly from daringly long sequences that
prove almost completely (and perhaps unbearably) silent. The performances are
strong, especially Keough (looking a tad like a brunette Silverstone), which
distract us from the problematic fact that surely none of this would happen in
But this isn’t real life: it’s a movie. And one sure
to, ahem, lodge in your mind.
The Lodge (M) is now showing at Place Nova Cinemas