Current Issue #488

Film Review:
The Lodge

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 real life.

But this isn’t real life: it’s a movie. And one sure to, ahem, lodge in your mind.

Reviewer Rating

The Lodge (M) is now showing at Place Nova Cinemas

DM Bradley

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