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Final [Girl] Review: The Lodge

The Lodge follows a father, his girlfriend, and his two children as they venture to a remote lodge in an attempt to bond the girlfriend with the reluctant children following the suicide of their mother. After the father leaves, the three remain stranded in the lodge during a massive snowstorm. As basic amenities break down, the children try to cope with their circumstances while the girlfriend's dark past starts to emerge.

The Lodge Review

Oh golly… how do I begin…

While watching “The Color Out of Space” (what a trip!) a while back, I saw the trailer for “The Lodge”. I was immediately intrigued. There didn’t seem to be any obvious scares, so I figured maybe there’s more nuanced, psychological horror involved in this one.

Right off the bat the director presents us with some interesting shots and sets to establish a cagey, dollhouse-like feel and aesthetic- however at times it’s almost heavy-handed (small spaces, tight shots, etc., but I’m no director so take what I say with a grain of salt) and often I felt pulled out of the movie by the deliberate parallels. The directing was clever, but maybe not subtle enough for my tastes.

The first act of “The Lodge” is promising. We are quickly introduced to the broken family: Jaeden Martell and Lia McHugh are siblings Aiden and Mia Hall, respectively. Richard Armitage is their father by the same name, Alicia Silverstone their mother Laura, and Riley Keough is Richard’s new, ex-cult member girlfriend, Grace. The parents are on the verge of divorce, and Alicia learns that Richard wants to marry his new girlfriend, Grace. The director wastes no time in moving the story along. In a quick sequence we see her progress from sipping wine to pulling a pistol out of her purse and shooting herself. A jarring, jaw-dropping moment is sure to set the tone for the rest of the film.

After getting over the graphic nature of the scene, I think, so far I’m entertained.

Six months after the suicide of Laura, Richard wanting the kids to spend some quality time with Grace up at a lodge in the mountains during their Christmas break. The kids balk at first at the obvious presumption that their father would have them meet the woman they blame for their mother’s suicie, but eventually relent. The group, along with Grace’s dog, Grady (and if this is indeed a horror movie, then little Grady is sure to die first), makes its way six hours out of town to their giant cabin.

I can applaud the accessible, obvious discomfort portrayed by all the parties involved- including the traumatic memories that the Chrisitian memorabilia decorated around the lodge incites for Grace. But during every scene with her, I thought to myself: Not sure if awkward girlfriend, scared of crosses and the Virgin Mary, bad actor, or disappointing writing. Riley Keough, who plays Grace, is the granddaughter of Elvis Presley, and as such has a face that, while beautiful, is a bit vapid and smug- and no other emotion was expressed at any point other than vapid smugness throughout the film.

The whole time I’m waiting for a jump scare or a mind-bendy moment, or heaven-forbid a ghost, after all this is a HORROR movie, right? At around act 37 the premise changes (a plot twist?) and the film gets interesting again. Grace finds a framed photo left in the snow outside the lodge in memory of Aiden and Mia, who have apparently passed on. Something something purgatory, and everyone needs to repent to be invited into the Kingdom of Heaven. It is revealed later that Aiden and Mia have played a prank on Grace, and this is when she loses it. The atmosphere at “The Lodge” turns deeply unsettling. The fun is about to start!

Nope, no fun started.

If religious family drama is synonymous with horror, sure, this was a horror movie. And I can understand how cults are creepy and scary in their own accord- but I still wouldn’t call “The Lodge” a horror. The film score and the enormous back muscles of teen actor Jaeden Martell carried this movie, in my opinion. The premise left a lot to be desired. Pacing was a snore. My handwriting for notes taken while I was zoning out were scarier than the film. “The Lodge” was just wildly unpredictable in the worst way and it felt like it was trying to ride the coattails of “Hereditary” with unnerving visuals and foreboding atmosphere.

Good movie: I guess? I’m still hung up on the fact that I didn’t get any payoff whatsoever other than the shoehorned symbolism of purgatory at the end.

Scary movie: Good lord, no.

Horror Qualifier: 4/10

Horror Quality: 2/10

Film Quality: I will give this a reluctant 7/10

Overall, “The Lodge” was not terrible and, to some who go in expecting a drama or thriller, maybe even entertaining, but I want my 108 minutes back.

Yet again, time to consult my To-View list for potential Very Scary Movies™.

Take care of yourselves,

-Final Girl

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