Horror Review: The Lodge (2019)
Updated: Jan 11
I usually avoid conversations about filmmaking fairly actively. Like all art, our opinions of film are so subjective and dependant on our personal taste and preferences. But I enjoy watching movies so much, and I always learn quite a bit about the filmmaking process by examining them with a closer eye. Something that Horror Movie Club has helped inspire me to do. So this year, I am making a more active effort to review horror films here that have an especially significant impact on me (for better or worse.)
Content warning for the film itself: Suicide, self harm and graphic violence. Minimal to no spoilers in this post!
The Lodge is a horror film from 2019. It was written by Severin Fiala, Veronika Franz and Sergio Casci (not their first rodeo with horror.) Directed by Fiala and Franz. It has a small cast, starring Riley Keough, Jaeden Martell and Lia McHugh...and Alicia Silverstone! It was filmed in Quebec, Canada.
After their mother dies, Aiden and Mia struggle to accept their father’s fiance, Grace. Tensions rise when the children are isolated with Grace in a cabin, during a blizzard. Though a somewhat simple concept so far, it’s presented in an unsettling way. Throughout the movie, we know that more will be revealed. We know that something big is coming.
One of the most interesting elements of this film to me, was Grace’s experience as part of a suicide cult. Which at first manifests with found footage. For any true crime junkies out there, I think The Lodge is worth watching for this storyline alone. I have never seen a more accurate representation of this sort of cult before in a film (but tell me what films to watch if I missed some!)
The cinematography of The Lodge is beautiful, stark and impactful. The director of photography, Thimios Bakatakis, also filmed The Lobster (2017) and The Killing of a Sacred Deer (2015). Two films that I will re-watch and watch respectively in the coming weeks.
The Lodge has a slow build, but it’s not boring. The way the film is shot sets the tone right off the bat. It’s a dark and bleak story, in all ways. It reminds me of one of my favorite literary works. The novella The Turn of The Screw by Henry James. Similar to that piece, in The Lodge, we don’t know who to trust. Or if we can trust the perspective of any of our characters. It’s an exploration of trauma and grief, and how those elements can cloud both the judgment and the clarity of our characters' minds.
If you’ve already seen The Lodge, you might appreciate that the cult leader was played by Riley Keough’s real father, Danny Keough.
For me, the themes of this film perfectly piqued my interest. The incorporation of cult history, isolation and our ambiguous narrator really hit the spot. In terms of watchability, I usually struggle watching modern horror films alone. It might surprise you, but I am actually quite afraid of horror. The Lodge was totally fine for me to watch alone (albeit I did watch it in the morning. This morning. So we will have to see how I feel later tonight.)
I would give The Lodge 8/10. It checked almost every box for me. Interesting and intriguing theme and story, stunning cinematography, excellent acting. This is a film that’s hard to discuss without giving spoilers, so I will just say this, I was on the edge of my seat and surprised by how the story unraveled. I know I am being cryptic, but I do not want to spoil anything about the story for you. You should watch it.