Spoilers would rather be scared on summer.
Horror movies during the winter are the worst. When the weather is so harsh that you can walk out and die, it’s really impossible not to make it become an additional antagonist of sorts. I knew going in that this feature had been compared to Midsommer, but honestly this one works on a much smaller scale. I found it shares more themes with Hereditary, specially in its mix of grief and horror. Add religion to that mix and you have a powderkeg about to go off. Or not.
The Lodge (2019) is directed by Severin Fiala and Veronika Franz. It’s not a monster feature. I’d be tempted to call it a psychological thriller, although that’s also misleading. At the expense of giving too much away, I’d rather file it as cultish horror, although whether it’s supernatural or not is up to the viewer. I was originally intrigued to watch this back in Fantasia 2019, but missed my chance. As it turns out, I might have played up my expectations. I don’t mind low key horror as long as we get some visual depiction of it.
Okey, here’s where I give myself away. If you’ve read a review of mine before you’ll notice the more I like the film the less I tell you about it. Well, in this case, I’m about to give you some major spoilers. Hence, I don’t think I’ll give this movie a second look or own a copy of it. There are no visual scares. Okey, one or two if we’re generous. Three if you consider a person with a gun, which I would object since a gun is a very atypical horror weapon. Not really scary per se.
The movie starts with the children Aidan (Jaeden Martell) and Mia (Lia McHugh) as we see their mother, Laura (Alicia Silverstone), take her own life. They are very distraught and from their point of view (and the audience of course) it is too soon for Richard (Richard Armitage) to think about marrying Grace (Riley Keogh). Obviously our point of view character will eventually become Grace, who is the survivor of a cult. Hint. This is a chance to introduce vivid and lucid nightmares, but all we get are audio cues from Grace’s father that seem to sound through the house at night.
We’re stuck in one location. We’re watching the same rooms and stairs over and over again. There’s a lake, but it doesn’t really play much of a part except for the usual accidental scare. Eventually of course the father has to leave for whatever reason, the kids are left with Grace and she seems to be going more off the deep end. There’s nothing to look at. Cinematography is muted and dark. It’s not that I don’t appreciate a slow build, it’s that I don’t think it really builds anything. There’s sort of a twist-reveal in the third act that was basically a letdown.
Major spoilers coming up…
The movie does set up some of the reveal early on and you can probably guess how things are setup also by the dollhouse. Yes, there’s a dollhouse in this film and that inevitably brings about comparisons to Hereditary which I see as a superior film. But the reasons for the dollhouse differ. You can see the children planning something as the reveal is that they are behind the audio playing the tapes from the cult and they are the ones that hide all the food, coats and Grace’s pills. This is a case of them literally driving her off the deep end and regretting it when it’s too late.
Barely recommended with lots of reservations for fans of slow build horror that do not need great visuals. I don’t mind dark themes in movies, but I do mind movies in which I can barely see a thing. Psychological thrillers are smart. Horror films are scary. This film felt like none of those things. I didn’t feel any of the performances to be engaging enough to create a single three-dimensional character that I could be scared for or scared of. It’s hard to be scared in a movie when you don’t care about anybody in it.
That will do for now.