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The Lodge Movie Review: Winter of Discontent

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BY May 9, 2020
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The Lodge, a movie from the duo who also made Ich seh, ich seh (Goodnight Mommy)–a movie I’m now too scared to see–had a limited release earlier this year. It is now more widely available through multiple streamers. As it’s about a trio forced to shelter in place, its timeliness may appeal to you. But is it any good? I’ll talk about that and try to recover from seeing it in my review of the movie The Lodge.

First, Though, What’s It All About?

the lodge movie review image via Neon

After separating from wife Laura (Alicia Silverstone), Richard Hall (Richard Armitage) shares custody with her of their children Aidan (Jaeden Martell) and Mia (Lia McHugh). At the same time, he’s been dating Grace (Riley Keough). Then Laura suddenly dies, and her death understandably devastates the kids. Richard then compounds their grief with shock when he announces at Thanksgiving that Grace will be spending Christmas with them at their remote lodge.

Soon after the four arrive, Richard has to return to the city for work. Grace tries to make the best of it, but it quickly becomes challenging. The kids are sullen and the approaching blizzard doesn’t help. After that, I’m hesitant to reveal too much. This is definitely one of those movies where you’ll enjoy it more, if “enjoy”ing is possible, the less you know. (However, there is one spoiler that you might want to know in advance.)

A Word on Horror Subgenres

the lodge movie review image via Neon

This is also one of those movies that you’ll hear critics call “atmospheric.” Atmospheric horror, in case you weren’t sure, refers to movies that are slower, less slasher. Jump-scares won’t jolt you in an atmospheric horror; instead, it’ll be something creeping up behind you. And that something may not even be tangible. Maybe it’s a feeling, like grief.

Filmmakers like Ari Aster and Robert Eggers have mastered the form. While their movies, like Hereditary, which has the most in common with The Lodge, are moody, that doesn’t mean they don’t have their scares. And their controversy. These are the films that tend to be debated more than other horror movies. But that just points to the craftsmanship involved in making them. After all, what’s there to debate with a paint-by-numbers slasher? (Usually, I’m debating if it’s the dumbest one I’ve ever seen.)

And I’ve seen a lot of these, too. I’ve liked some (especially by the aforementioned directors) and didn’t care for some. (Cut to me yelling, “It’s a metaphor for grief!” in the parking lot after It Comes at Night.) So I thought I knew what to expect here. The plot summary says, for example, “…terrifying events summon specters from Grace’s dark past.” Got it. The isolation gets to her and she slips into a Jack Torrance-esque “all work and no play” fugue. Ghosts may or may not be involved.

The Lodge Movie Review

the lodge movie review image via Neon

However, while there is a certain element of that–isolation can get to anyone–it did not play out as I expected. At least, not at first. I was expecting something I’d seen before. And I got that, until I realized where the movie was going, and then watched in horror as it all played out.

This is a movie that doesn’t depend on flash or tricks. It takes place almost solely within and around the family lodge. And as the blizzard sets in, the color palette of the film seems to desaturate, until everything is gray. Since this isn’t the kind of movie that relies on fancy effects or jump-scares, it has to have strong performances and it does. Riley Keough is the obvious standout. The movie would collapse without her anchoring it, and watching her performance as Grace moves from hesitancy to…something else is a genuine revelation. (And that’s not to say that Keough has been a slouch in her career so far.) In addition, Jaeden Martell and Lia McHugh competently play off her, as Aidan and Mia’s relationship with Grace changes.

As for how it changes or into what, again, I don’t want to say. I will say, though, if you’re looking for a happy ending, then look elsewhere. In the end, The Lodge could have gone in any number of directions. That it chooses to go somewhere so bleak is not only surprising, but the kind of thing that will stick with audiences. I know it stuck with me.

The Lodge is available for rental through YouTube, Google Play Movies & TV, and Prime Video. It is also streaming on Hulu. (Here is the part where I’d put the trailer, but it gives too much away! Go in as fresh as possible.)

Have you watched The Lodge yet? Tell us what you think about the movie and this review.

featured image via Neon

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Salomé Gonstad is a freelance writer who grew up in the swampy wilds of south Alabama. She now splits her time between the Appalachian wilds (of Alabama) and the considerably more refined streets of New York City. When she's not yelling about pop culture on the internet, she's working on a supernatural thriller about her hometown. Also, we're pretty sure she's a werewolf. Email her at salome@comicyears.com.

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