Who doesn’t want to go to a remote lodge in winter to celebrate Christmas with the family?! Unless of course it’s with your stepmom, who you don’t necessarily have anything in common with. That’s exactly what happens in Severin Fiala and Veronika Franz‘s newest film ‘The Lodge‘. After its premiere at Sundance over a year ago, it garnered mostly positive reviews and has finally landed on VOD for everyone to enjoy*.
(*”enjoy” might not be the right word as you’ll discover for yourself)

This bone-chilling nightmare follows a family who retreat to their remote winter cabin over the holidays. When the father (The Hobbit‘s Richard Armitage) is forced to abruptly depart for work, he leaves his children, Aidan (IT‘s Jaeden Martell) and Mia (Lia McHugh – soon part of the MCU as one of the ‘Eternals‘) in the care of his new girlfriend, Grace (Riley Keough). Isolated and alone, a blizzard traps them inside the lodge as terrifying events summon specters from Grace’s dark past.

You’d expect something like this from indie-horror powerhouse A24, but NEON has been growing their catalog significantly with titles such as ice skating drama ‘I, Tonya‘ and this year’s Oscar-juggernaut ‘Parasite‘. Not only does the film have that particular gritty low budget feel to it, it also delivers. Throughout the entire film there’s this certain icy menacing doom hanging above the family’s heads as we mentally and physically spiral down into the frigid gates of hell. The script is set up in such a way you’d question everything that happens in and around this cabin, surrounded by nothing but snow and ice. Nothing and no one can be trusted.

Since this is mostly newfound mommy dearest Grace and her soon-to-be stepkids’ vacation, they’re all in each other’s hair one way or another. The chemistry between these three feels perfectly ominous and threatening. Keough is quickly becoming an indie-queen, and once again proves she’s ready for her serious breakthrough and become a household name. Her vulnerable performance of a woman that has been through hell from birth, makes you want to help her, well knowing there’s another layer to her we can’t exactly understand. This becomes clear when once again the film’s genre turns itself from horror into more of a psychological mystery thriller.

Sound is such an important part of ‘The Lodge‘. It sets the mood in many scenes, freezing your spine in a way you almost feel as if you were part of this little family holiday. Composer duo Danny Bensi and Saunder Jurriaans‘ score contributes to this hair rising effect. What might disappoint is the very simple cinematography that doesn’t do much for the story itself. We see a lot of the same wooden interior shots, without ever challenging itself in using interesting camera angles that could’ve lifted the atmosphere to unseen altitudes.

The Lodge is easily as sharp as The Shining and Hereditary – both classics in their own territory. What differentiates this film from others is how imperfect it is, while none of it ever feels like an error. Isolation terror in times of quarantine.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Review – ‘The Lodge’

Reviewed online, May 5, 2020. Rating: R. Running time: 108 min.

PRODUCTION: A NEON release of a FilmNation Entertainment, Hammer Films production. Producers: Aliza James, Simon Oakes, Aaron Ryder. Executive producers: Ben Browning, Alison Cohen, Marc Schipper, Brad Zimmermann.

CREW: Directors: Severin Fiala, Veronika Franz. Screenplay: Sergio Casci, Severin Fiala, Veronika Franz. Camera: Thimios Bakatakis. Editor: Michael Palm. Music: Danny Bensi, Saunder Jurriaans.

WITH: Riley Keough, Richard Armitage, Jaeden Martell, Lia McHugh, Alicia Silverstone.

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