This art-house horror picture has religious, psychological underpinnings which can get maddeningly under the skin.
Austria’s Veronika Franz and Severin Fiala direct The Lodge which isn’t as downright spooky as stylishly unnerving.
The filmmakers and their adept craft contributors offer a certain amount of foreboding from a setting using wintry environs and a life-size dollhouse (replete with handmade Barbie-sized figures) to their advantage. Starting with the ‘gun in a box’.
The narrative (collaborated on by Franz and Fiala) works off of family dysfunctionally as writer Richard (Richard Armitage) and wife Laura (a brief, if potent turn for Alicia Silverstone) are on the outs as spouses in his affinity towards Grace (Riley Keough of It Comes At Night, Logan Lucky).
The kids, teen Aidan (Jaeden Martell) and tween Mia (Lia McHugh), aren’t pleased with their dad given also the Grace is the sole survivor of a Jim Jones-like sect which committed mass suicide (that Richard chronicled). In order to get over this awkwardness, a lakeside Christmas holiday is set up by Richard who has to return suddenly for pressing office business.
Thus, being in a cabin in the woods in a getting-to-know phase is portrayed from low-level gloom to bleaker antics as blizzard conditions leave the stepmom-to-be in a more precarious state when it comes to being of sound mind (and body) — when she’s on her medication.
A creepy Santa ornament, crucifixes and saints are on display as part of the exacerbating conflict that take on a life of its own being atop the aforementioned frozen lake. How Keough, Martell and McHugh undergo this forbidding experience that will go afield for more than a few create a kind of obstinate, if cunning observance into the ideas of grief, acceptance, not to mention mental illness.
From the subtext, Keough does well to endow a relatable vulnerability within the mystery where being stranded and buried literally and figuratively fits into the imagery project and edited with serviceable lurid intrigue.
The Notions that Franz and Fiala divulge looks to be a juggling act that is hard to pull off, notably from a credibility angle, as Grace has a very haunting paternal presence. The Lodge imparts the feeling of the recent Hereditary as well as the more iconic elements from Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining when it comes to having edge-of-your-seat freak-out moments. Yet, in its imposing, uninviting stokes a nightmarish ordeal leaves a case of frightened humanity churning on the brink of sanity.