By Cain Dennis
Directors Severin Fiala and Veronika Franz’ “The Lodge” is more of an aimless trek through the snow than it is an intriguing horror piece. Save for the first ten or so minutes, I found very little positive to draw from it. The film shows its hand far too early, with its most interesting moments playing out very early in its runtime, leaving the rest devoid of surprises, as you can predict most of its twists very early on.
The actors do a fine job for the most part, especially Riley Keough as Grace, who practically carries the film on her back. Jaeden Martell (Knives Out, IT) and Lia McHugh play siblings Aiden and Mia. Both young actors play their parts well, but their characters lack anything in the way of realistic motivation. I don’t buy their relationship, and I don’t buy what they do. It’s almost like an alien, trying to imagine how human emotion and motivation operates came up with the script for this movie. The father’s total lack of worry and disregard for his children’s well-being is especially puzzling. I understand that these characters being out of touch is most likely intentional, but in a film that demands you to feel scared for them, it’s next to impossible when the script robs you of any chance to relate to them in a meaningful way.
About mid-way through “The Lodge” we are presented with a very interesting idea that presents a fork in the road for the story. Without detailing anything too spoilery, I will say that this crossroads is traversed in the most predictable way possible, if they’d have gone where they try to make you think the story is going, I believe that I’d have enjoyed this a lot more, but instead, it stays in its rut and doesn’t leave it until the movie ends. This film goes nowhere. It has the most agonizingly slow pacing of any film I’ve seen this year or last. It feels like it’s never going to end, almost as if the viewer is stuck in a form of purgatory. A better film could use this effect to its benefit, but here it comes from sheer inability to tell a compelling story.
From a technical standpoint, “The Lodge” looks and sounds fine, and I enjoyed its snow-covered scenery but I must stress how this film is extremely derivative of Ari Aster’s “Hereditary”. It’s almost a blatant rip off. From its dollhouse imagery to its spiritual and family horror dynamics. It even uses a cult to set up the main plot, just like “Hereditary”. It’s almost as if these filmmakers were just trying to make Aster’s film again, but lacked the skill, and turned out this stale cover version instead. Unfortunately for them, the movie they were copying is much better than this one. Decent cinematography and editing don’t make up for an awful story with terrible pacing.
“The Lodge” is an absolute drag to get through. It makes you feel uncomfortable for all of the wrong reasons. The first ten or so minutes make the audience a promise that the rest of the film is unable to keep. Its ending fails to conclude the story in an interesting way, but I was honestly just glad to see the credits roll.
I give “The Lodge”