One giant way of knowing that you love a motion picture is if you still love it even if you correctly guess the entire outcome of a film. I guessed early on correctly what was really going on in THE LODGE but even as the end credits started to roll I was still deeply invested in everything that I witnessed in this fantastic no cheap jump scares, atmospheric, and disturbing horror movie. If it seems like I harp and ridicule most wide modern audience horror films nowadays (like the recent terrible The Grudge reboot) its because they deserve to be torn apart. The only thing those kinds of film are good for are to elicit cheap jump scares for dumb tweens to get their temporary orgasmic kicks of reality escapism while trying to avoid the real horrors of the world. Movies like this don’t represent real horror that well. They don’t have themes, messages, or contain anything beyond the fact that “this thing jumped out at me with this loud musical crescendo so it made my heart jump into my throat and since its not happening to me in real life combined with the fact that it in no way could happen in general (be that the cheap scare is the pop up of a zombie, vampire, ghost, or whatever the fuck), this is the exact shit I need to escape reality for an hour and a half to two hours.” No…fuck you. You don’t know horror films you amateur fuck. True horror films are something like this, Hereditary, Midsommar, and even though I didn’t care much for them, films like It Comes At Night, The Witch or The Lighthouse because they don’t produce many jump scares (if any at all) they seep into your fucking mind and make you fear that you could wind up in a situation like that, because they provoke a real sense of reality. If you didn’t like ANY of the films I mentioned above, YOU. DO. NOT. KNOW. HORROR.
As you can see my review is going beyond just the film I saw last night and basically just filler because I don’t really want to about The Lodge much. Well I do, but I want to talk about it privately to people that have actually seen it. And it’s not because it was bad and I have a bunch of jokes why it sucks or anything like that, it’s because it is best to go into this film completely and utterly fucking dark. Don’t even watch a trailer to it. I really don’t want to say anything about it beyond the fact that it deals with two kids that are trapped in a big cabin/lodge place out in the middle of bum fuck nowhere with a woman that is to be their new stepmother. I don’t want to talk about how it gets to them even ending up in that situation. I don’t want to talk about the back story of the new stepmother to be. I especially don’t want to talk about the ending. I don’t want to talk about how it deals with mental illness even better than that boring Horse Girl movie on Netflix that I just reviewed that was a slog to get through. It’s better not knowing anything at all about this movie other than the title and the synopsis that I just gave that was as generic as I could come up with without giving anything away. I can only talk about several things, one is giant praise, one is a minor complaint (my only one about this terrific film), and one is about the acting.
Let’s start off with the minor complaint: the two kids have a father in the film, who sets up this “spend Christmas family time together” at this lodge/cabin so that way they get to know their future stepmother. But after a very short time at the place, he goes off on a work emergency for several days. And yes, they do set up that he’s a very busy man at work before he just deserts his future wife and two kids, but it felt like a forced plot convenience just to get the three of them alone for the horror to start to happen. There could’ve been better alternative solutions to get the father out of the picture such as maybe going into town for supplies but then a blizzard just suddenly comes in and he’s stuck there for several days (the blizzard happens anyway but the work is still the excuse). If I was a father with my two kids, and wanted to spend family time for them to get to know my future wife, there is no way in fucking hell I’d ditch them for several days for my job. I would want to be in on that wholesome family time so I would make sure everything at my job can be handled so that it could survive on its own a week, and I would ESPECIALLY NOT LEAVE MY KIDS ALONE WITH SOMEONE THEY HARDLY FUCKING KNEW. ESPECIALLY when you learn early on in the film the background her character went through when she was younger. No fucking way I’d leave them alone. That’s the only part of the film that felt outlandish and sort of stupid to me. Easily could’ve been rectified with different ideas, but this is mostly forgivable due to the rest of the film being so damn good.
Which gets me to the giant praise: UTTERLY FUCKING FANTASTIC MOOD, ATMOSPHERE, AND DISTURBING IMAGERY/SITUATIONS/IDEAS. There are maybe one or two earned jump scares throughout the film, and literally no other cheap jump scares in sight. This horror film is meant to dig deep into your mind, where you are thinking about it at night, days after you see it. It is meant to get under your skin and make you afraid that something like that could happen to you. It’s so very, very, very, very well done, and the only thing I could compare it to nowadays is that it felt like a more somber & depressing yet more realistic take on themes presented in Hereditary and Midsommar. Albeit this one is definitely more religious than the other two…but in a good way. The acting is the last bit I will say about the movie with praise without giving anything away. While Alicia Silverstone (yes, Cher from Clueless) and Richard Armitage have small yet effective roles, this is a three person show that consists of the Riley Keough, Lia McHugh, and you may know the great Jaeden Martrell from his main role as Bill Denborough in the new Stephen King IT movies. The perfect performance in this goes to Riley Keough, playing the loving, yet shy, yet may be truly disturbed new stepmother to be. It is another horror acting performance that you will eventually put down in the “All Time Great Horror Roles” alongside other recent performances such as Toni Collette from Hereditary and Florence Pugh from Midsommar. She’s just that good, especially in the final act. All right, that’s it, no more, I’m done.
If you don’t enjoy films like this, or you won’t even give them a chance, and want to stick to your dumb cheap jump scare silly ‘horror’ films, then why bother even going to the movies, because you are literally getting zilch out of watching those films. It’s like you are buying and eating a cheesecake from Walmart, when in reality if you just made the effort, and drove a little further, you could pick up a fresh delicious piece from The Cheesecake Factory. I enjoyed and loved almost every bite here. The film was written and directed by a Severin Fiala and Veronika Franz, and I’ll admit, I am not familiar with them or their work, but I plan on checking out some. They do a great job with both duties here and hopefully they stick to this genre, we need more of it to flush out the cheap shit. I’m really surprised that filmmaker Ari Aster had nothing to do with this film. Because if Hereditary was a great horror representation of Fall, and Midsommar was a great horror representation of Spring or Summer, then The Lodge is a great horror presentation of Winter. If Ari Aster had anything to do with this he’d be only one film away from completing a perfect Horror Season Solstice Anthology. Alas, his name isn’t anywhere on this and it is just a great film to watch with the other two: Midsommar a perfect appetizer, Hereditary the main course, and then finally The Lodge as a sweet, sweet dessert.