Hello, boys and girls! We're back after a long break with a brand new review. And with the whole Coronavirus situation happening and so much of the country in lock-down, what better move to review than The Lodge, a movie about people literally stuck indoors? I know, topical, right? This was one of my most anticipated movies on 2019 and when the film was delayed to 2020 I missed my chance to see it in theaters. Now that it's available to stream on Hulu and I can't leave the house, I figured now was a good a time as any to review the film. So sit back, relax, and let's dive into The Lodge. Beware spoilers, but since you can stream this pretty easily, go watch it and come back if you haven't seen it yet.
The Lodge is a movie about some kids who, after their mom dies, are pseudo-forced by their dad to go on a Christmas vacation with his new fiance whom they hate. Written and directed by Severin Fiala (Goodnight Mommy) and Veronika Franz (also Goodnight Mommy), The Lodge stars Riley Keough, Jaeden Martell, and Lia McHugh, I'll be one hundred percent honest and say that going into this movie I had no idea what it was about. I purposefully stayed away from trailers and reviews because I wanted to go into this movie and experience it completely blind. I will also say that some of the other folks at MRC did see it before I did, and even though they didn't provide me any spoilers, their opinions of the movie did have me waiting for something specific to happen to justify their stances. At the time of this writing I have just finished the movie and I have to say, I liked it all the way through. So let's get into the story and see where my opinions might differ from that of the other MRC guys.
So the story starts off with Mia and Aiden with their mom on their way to visit their dad. We learn that Mom and Dad are in the middle of a divorce and Dad has already met someone new and they're planning on getting married. Mom doesn't take this too well and...kills herself. It happens so fast it actually took me a minute to process the fact that it happened. They don't linger like they did with the daughter's death in Hereditary, but they don't try to hide it. It doesn't happen off screen, or anything. She's center frame, gun in mouth, brains on wall. It's horrifying to watch, but at the same time you feel desensitized to it because we don't really spend any time with the character for her suicide to mean anything to us. It's more about what it means to the kids, and the rest of the movie hinges on that. Six months after the funeral, dad proposes a Christmas vacation in their winter lodge with Grace, the new fiance. The kids are understandably against the idea because they haven't really moved on from their mom's death yet. They also discover that Grace was the only survivor of a suicide cult. After their dad lays on the pressure they reluctantly agree to the vacation. Once they get there Grace makes an honest attempt to connect with the kids but they aren't having any of it. A couple of days go by and we can see that Grace still has flashbacks of her time in the cult. One morning she wakes up to see that everything is gone.There's no power, all of their belongings and food have vanished, and this is where the tone of the movie really shifts and the dread and paranoia set in. We don't know if Grace is actually crazy and means the children harm, or if there's supernatural forces at work. Aiden suggest that maybe they've died without realizing it and they're in purgatory and need to repent for their sins. It is soon revealed, however, that Aiden and Mia have hidden all the food and belongings in order to mess with Grace. They do a little too good of a job though and Grace, who by now has not been able to take her medication in a few days has fully lapsed back into the cult mentality and genuinely believes they are in purgatory. Dad shows up after being gone on business to find Grace, completely out of it with a gun in her hand. He tries to talk her down but she is determined to convince him that they are dead by holding the gun to her head and pulling the trigger. The revolver clicks, and Dad continues to try and talk Grace down. Still trying to convince Dad, she turns the gun on him and pulls the trigger, killing him. The movie ends with Grace, the kids, and dead Dad around the dinner table as Grace sings a hymn.
Now, I think where the MRC guys opinions differ with my own is that they all said that they really liked the movie until they didn't. I assume the reveal that the kids are just messing with Grace is where the film drops off for them. I disagree. I think the way they attack her religious trauma is both effective and horrifying. The fact that they completely force her back into the cult mentality really shows how mentally fragile Grace still is, even after years of recovery. This is amplified by the absolute powerhouse performance from Riley Keough. Her performance completely carries the film, and a lesser actress would actually make this film much worse since the only other actors in the majority of the film are children who are largely silent. The Lodge also invokes Hereditary quite a bit. Whether this is on purpose or not I can't say, but there were multiple times in the movie where I thought "Wow, this really wants to be Hereditary." And that's not necessarily a bad thing. Imitation is the highest form of flattery as they say. And in a kind of reverse Hereditary, instead of a satanic panic movie this is kind of an anti-religion movie. The whole theme revolves around God and how organized religion can be weaponized to brainwash people. They also approach death in a very real way, which in my opinion is scarier than the over-the-top gore that a lot of horror movies go in their deaths. They're really quick. Mom kills herself at the beginning of the movie and that's it. It's done. Grace shoots dad at the end and that's it. He's dead. Quick, instant death is one of those things that makes you realize just how small and pointless you are in the scope of the universe.
The Lodge is a fantastic slow burn horror movie that will stick with after you watch it. If you haven't seen it I would highly recommend that you do. If you have seen it, drop me a comment and tell me what you thought of it! Did you like the reveal? Do you with they went a different way with it? Let me know!