Movie review: Horror flick ‘The Lodge’ loses its nerve
“The Lodge,” about two kids stranded in a snowy mountain hideaway with their father’s weird fiancée, is all dread and desolation that signifies nothing. An early shocker sets the bar high, but what unfolds is ultimately a letdown. It’s hardly thrilling or scary. Instead, “The Lodge” is another derivative and atmospheric horror flick that squanders a decent premise in favor of been-there-done-that scares.
Before you can say “father of the year,” Dad (Richard Armitage) leaves his teenage son (horror vet Jaeden Martell, “It”) and tween daughter (Lia McHugh) holed up with Riley Keough’s, Grace, the “psychopath” who broke up their family. They’ll learn to love you, Dad figures (wrongly), so off he goes promising to be back in time to celebrate Christmas. Predictably, the kids are snots, even more so when they Google search her up and discover that Grace is totally sketchy, the lone survivor of a religious cult’s suicide pact. And she’s named Grace. Talk about being on the nose.
In their follow up to 2014’s “Goodnight Mommy,” writer-directors Veronika Franz and Severin Fiala smartly play coy with their script. Who’s the real threat here - the kids bent making quick work of the home-wrecker or the step-mom-to-be? The answer, well, no spoilers here, but forced family bonding is its own sort of hell. To up the creep factor, Aidan stands in the shadows to watch Grace in the shower and Mia has a thing for an evil-looking doll. After all, what’s a horror movie without a horny teen and a dash of doll terror?
The movie’s strength is its mood. The setting is downright chilling. The remote dwelling is all shadowy hallways with walls covered in the darkest wood and adorned with a mounted deer’s head and crucifixes. It’s a monochromatic nightmare for viewers and a head trip for Grace, who’s reminded of her tormented religious past. The Foley artists definitely earned their paychecks. All the sound effects - forks scraping against dishes, pills rattling - are heightened to an annoying degree. The squeaks of the floors and doors is like nails on a chalkboard. If those walls could talk they’d probably say “grab your butts and run.”
With dad gone, it’s game on for whatever haunts the house and the people in it, be it a lost soul stuck in purgatory or something else. Kudos goes to Keough, though, for summoning the right mix of unpredictability and heaving breathing, even if her character is totally whacked and borderline mute. Alicia Silverstone also gets a brief moment to shine.
Back in the dark abode, Grace and the kids experience a series of unsettling episodes. Her Zip-loc bag full of meds goes missing. The religious painting Grace took off the wall keeps reappearing. She starts to hear voices. Messages appear in a shower-steamed mirror. The TV goes on the fritz. Lights flicker. The dog disappears. Can you stand it? I couldn’t. Check out time from “The Lodge” can’t come soon enough.
Dana Barbuto may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on Twitter @dbarbuto_Ledger.
Cast: Riley Keough, Jaeden Martell), Lia McHugh, Alicia Silverstone and Richard Armitage.
(R for profanity, nudity, violence, disturbing images.)