Movie Review: The Lodge

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3-stars

R |

by Jason Koenigsberg

The Lodge is one of the bleakest horror movies of recent memory. It took heavily from Ari Aster’s Hereditary (2018) but removes a lot of the supernatural elements and instead replaces them with a hopelessness few American movies contain. Both The Lodge and Hereditary are about a family, in particular young children, dealing with the recent passing of a loved one. They both contain strong themes of Christianity and Christian imagery contrasted with a cult and their more bizarre beliefs. They also both contain a dollhouse and figurines. In fact the opening shot of The Lodge is an icy blue window with the camera pulling back, after a few cuts the filmmakers reveal that all of the first shots were in a dollhouse. The ice and condensation over windows and glass is a recurring motif in The Lodge and always makes the viewer and characters question what they are seeing and if what they are seeing is actually real. 

The less you know about the plot the better since The Lodge is filled with moments that caused the audience I screened the film with to gasp in shock and a couple times I even heard “Oh my God!” while unexpected events unfolded. On the surface The Lodge is just another isolated cabin in the woods horror tale which has been done thousands of times. If that sounds like an unappealing concept then this movie may not be the one for you. Also with its themes about divorce, death, and heaven involving children are so dismal The Lodge is an early contender for “the feel bad movie of 2020”. I stated in the first paragraph that it is a bleak film, that is an understatement, but it is also the best single adjective to describe The Lodge. They even show the characters watching John Carpenter’s The Thing (1982) which is another movie known for its bleak ending and cold, snowy, remote setting. 

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The Lodge is going to likely get very little attention because of its subject matter and how it deals with it but the performances from its very small cast are on point. Especially strong is Riley Keough as the fiancee of the children’s father trying to build a relationship with her soon to be stepchildren. She is met with a lot of hostility from the kids and the viewer will be asking themselves how much of it is deserved. Keough is probably best known for being the daughter of Lisa Marie Presley, therefore the granddaughter of Priscilla and the late Elvis Presley but she has in the last few years turned in a number of terrific supporting performances in films like Mad Max: Fury Road (2015), American Honey (2016), and It Comes at Night (2017). The Lodge is her first lead role for all intents and purposes and make no doubt about it, her best. She proves she is ready and capable of carrying a movie on her shoulders. Also worth noting, on the twenty-fifth anniversary of the 90’s comedy classic Clueless (1995), Alicia Silverstone has a pivotal role in The Lodge. Her initial appearance will make people of a certain age say in their heads “Hey! That’s Alicia Silverstone!” since this is probably the first role many viewers have seen her in for about two decades. She acts well, is never distracting and looks great for someone her age. Veganism works well for her. 

As usual with most admirable horror movies, The Lodge is smart and has a definite political message. This film is predominantly anti-gun especially for people who have mental health issues. There is a scene where a character shows another character a gun they keep hidden in the cabin and right there the alarms should be going off for the viewer that something very bad, intentional or not, is going to happen with this weapon. The liberal message hits just the right notes and never goes overboard. The last shot really spells out everything the filmmakers intended to convey with this film and they succeed. I give these writers and directors a lot of credit for sticking to their guns. In a cinematic landscape that is mostly controlled by franchises and focus groups it is a small miracle that this movie ever made it to theaters for mainstream audiences to see. 

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