The Lodge is a relentless dark atmospheric tale of human cruelty.
The Lodge is a psychological horror film with a mysterious vibe and a dark atmosphere. It’s a dark tale about human cruelty and how it affects people, about being traumatized, and about actions having severe consequences regardless the intention.
It’s not a pleasant film to watch, seeing how a vulnerable person is slowly being destroyed. It’s about how a trauma can cause mental illness, but this is shown in a respectful and sincere manner. Trauma was mostly used in horror films to create psychopath killers, madmen who are to be feared. The Lodge shows us how trauma can be abused and drive a victim insane with devastating outcomes.
Aiden and Mia struggle with the fact that their father Richard has a new girlfriend Grace. But their mother Laura takes the news that he wants to divorce her and marry Grace even worse and commits suicide. Six months later Richard wants his kids and Grace to get along so they plan a trip for Christmas to an isolated lodge in Massachusetts.
When Richard has to go back to town for work, Grace is left behind with the two children, who ignore her. But when the power is cut off, they are trapped. Things get even worse after Grace wakes up and all of her things are gone, including her medication. Suffering from medication withdrawal she starts to hallucinate and things spiral out of control.
Why you should watch it
The Lodge is first of all a very slow burn. It takes its time to build the story. The films starts with Laura’s point of view taking the divorce very badly and this results in a first shocking out of the blue scene. It says: pay attention. Because although the film is slow, it’s full of hints of what is going to happen and is all set up beforehand in Mia’s dollhouse. The whole film is meticulously planned and everything that happens in the lodge, is there on purpose. From the video Mia shows Grace of better times with the family and her mother, the snow angels, the newspaper clipping and the recordings.
The film is dark and relentless. It has an ominous atmosphere that is increased by the voice of Grace’s dead father that echoes through the lodge. The shots are long and create mystery, especially in the beginning when Grace stays very obscure. She is not shown, only her silhouette and that makes her more elusive.
Although the story is set up like a mystery it is hinted throughout the film what is going on. The mystery therefore is not the core of the film, but trauma and human cruelty is.
While it seems Grace is just a crazy person and dangerous, she in fact isn’t until she is pushed to the limit and breaks big time. It’s very hard to watch and the cruelty is very subtle and maybe not even meant that way, but the outcome is nevertheless a terrible one.
Grace is the only survivor of a suicide cult led by her father. It left her with a severe trauma, for which she needs medication. She and the audience is often reminded of the night she found the cult members dead, which is very intense and dark but shown without shock value or to merely create horror. It’s her real horror she lived through and the film handles it with care but leaves us with a horrifying feeling. The icons and crosses in the lodge that belonged to Laura, unnerve Grace. Now she has to deal with two children who don’t like her, feelings of guilt for breaking up a marriage and Laura killing herself, and now both Laura and her father are haunting her in her dreams and hallucinations. That’s the first real horror of the film.
But it gets even worse, for when it becomes clear what the mystery of all the strange happenings in the lodge really is, the horror lies not only within Grace’s mind, but with others tormenting her in the most cruel ways. Being indoctrinated all of her life, being left with a trauma and then again being tormented mentally, it’s no wonder Grace suffers from a nervous breakdown and breaks altogether leaving her with the only thing she knows.
The film is definitely not a pleasant one, it’s in fact horrible what other people can do to each other to eventually break them completely and destroy them is absolutely awful. It’s depressing and we are shown the darkest sides of humanity in different ways. Everyone in the film acts out of selfishness, whether they do it on purpose or not, whether thinking about the consequences or not. They are all victims and perpetrators at the same time, creating a cycle of pain. And that is real purgatory.
Side note: Dog Grady dies. He is frozen to death outside and Grace holds his frozen body. It’s very sad and infuriating.
My favorite part
I liked the fact that it was a daring film that handled heavy themes about trauma and religion and cults in a very delicate way, without condemning Grace. It really became apparent that she was the victim, and that a trauma should be handled with care and not to be played with or abused or gaslighting her. It was thought provoking to show how trauma can affect someone’s life. That one isn’t insane, but can be driven into insanity unwillingly. It should be a cautionary tale about treating people with trauma and mental illness deriving from it, with care and empathy instead of creating a self fulfilling prophecy.
Thrill factor: ★★★★☆
Drama factor: ★★★★☆
Gruesome factor: ★★★★★
Originality factor: ★★★★☆
Cast and crew
The Lodge is directed and written by Veronika Franz and Severin Fiala and cowritten by Sergio Casci. It stars Riley Keough (Grace), Jaeden Martell (Aiden), Lia McHugh (Mia), Richard Armitage (Richard) and Alicia Silverstone (Laura).
Duration: 108 minutes. Music: Danny Bensi, Saunder Jurriaans. Cinematography: Thimios Bakatakis. Edited by: Michael Palm. Produced by: Simon Oakes, Aliza James, Aaron Ryder. Production companies: FilmNation Entertainment, Hammer Films. Distributed by: Neon.