It’s a strange time to be a movie fan. Many of the year’s most anticipated features have been either delayed or released early on home media, leaving us to look out for the newest VOD releases. There’s no shortage of movies on streaming to check out, and ironically, one of the best new titles available is about people cracking under the pressure of being locked in close quarters with one another.
The Lodge, from the directors of the critically acclaimed Goodnight Mommy, gives the audience a subtle peek at the heart of the film’s horror in its opening scene, depicting a woman named Laura committing suicide after learning that her ex-husband, Richard, plans to remarry. Aidan (Jaeden Martell) and Mia (Lia McHugh), the children of Laura and Richard, lead the story as a grieving brother-sister duo upset at their father for remarrying so soon after Laura’s death.
Richard’s new love is Grace (Riley Keough), a soft-spoken and seemingly kind woman who is brought along with the family to their lodge for Christmas. When Grace offers to stay with the kids for a couple of days while Richard heads out for a work obligation, Aidan and Mia use this as an opportunity to pry into Grace’s past, all the while mysterious and possibly supernatural occurrences begin to terrify the makeshift family.
The Lodge is the type of horror film that’s slow in revealing its hand, leaving little bread crumbs for the audience to pick up on as the mystery unfolds. A snowstorm hits the lodge soon after Richard’s departure, and weird happenings begin to terrify Grace and the kids, including missing belongings, strange noises in the night, and a distant voice that seems to be connected to Grace’s past as part of a mysterious cult.
But what elevates the film isn’t simply how the mystery unravels, but how it comes to affect the characters trapped in the lodge. Each set of characters in the story gradually show the end results of elongated quarantine, with Grace bearing the brunt of the pain as a result of her past. Being stuck in a house with two kids aiming to antagonize her at every turn leaves Grace at the mercy of her own thoughts, amplified by the strange sounds at night that always seem to target her.
Aidan and Mia begin to notice these occurrences as well, falling into a similar descent as Grace and leaving an air of uncertainty as to what exactly is terrorizing them. Being left alone in a lodge during a snowstorm isn’t exactly the prime condition for characters to act completely rational and as they become unable to grasp the true nature of their situation, the audience is brought right along with them in experiencing this slowly decaying nightmare.
The premise may feel familiar to viewers who’ve seen the previous Goodnight Mommy, but the overlapping aspects manage to feel like an update rather than a retread here. The film plays with the “evil stepmother” trope to make Grace feel like a genuinely complicated character, the supernatural concept has an interesting twist, and the isolation factor makes good use of its setting to let the audience feel the chilly and stuffy interior of the house in a similar manner to The Thing.
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Isolation can bring out the worst in people, and The Lodge demonstrates this beautifully. In fact, it might be a little too close to home for some audiences right now, who might understandably opt to skip a film about being trapped indoors for an extended period. That’s a shame, because The Lodge is a tense, compelling film with some great performances. It’s a twisty tale about family and manipulation, and if you can stomach a movie about isolation at the moment, then it’s worth checking out.