Thursday, February 20, 2020

The Lodge - Review

By now, with years of upscale, artistic horror films becoming more and more prevalent, the appearance of a new, exciting vision in horror is almost becoming mundane or expected. Nevertheless, it’s hard not to appreciate the flow of great horror, and to see those that rise above the rest. The Lodge just so happens to be one of those films, a nightmarish descent into madness led by an impressive performance from Riley Keough.

During a family retreat to a remote winter cabin over the holidays, the father is forced to abruptly depart for work, leaving his two children in the care of his new girlfriend, Grace (Riley Keough). Isolated and alone, a blizzard traps them inside the lodge as terrifying events summon specters from Grace's dark past.

Though the idea of a stepmother has always been a negative one in the eyes of Hollywood, no matter the genre or level of wickedness within, The Lodge dives in head first. The character of Grace isn’t just a younger woman stepping into the role of mother for two skeptical children, she is a former member of a cult that the father did a story on before their relationship began. To say that anyway would be a little on edge for their trip to a remote cabin with her along for the ride might be little on edge.

However, just when you think you know where The Lodge is headed, directors Veronika Franz and Severin Fiala, and writer Sergio Casci, completely flip the script. These massive revelations come about with some shock if you are able to stay in the dark, and make the film infinitely darker with each twist. So much of the film relies on atmospheric horror, and the desolate setting, yet these turns decontextualize multiple moments from the film and elevates it to new heights.

For all of this to work, there needs to be a central performance that can hit all the markers of a character slowly losing their grip on reality. Keough has been slowly building a solid filmography, but The Lodge should serve as a jumping off point to so many other opportunities. The actress doesn’t ever go for the over the top choice when depicting a woman falling further and further into despair, opting for smaller moments that build to an explosion of fear, rage, and the manic behavior that drives the conclusion of this film.

The Lodge is another addition to the line of indie horror films that strives  to haunt rather than unleash jump scares and loud noises upon an unsuspecting audience. A few twists and a stellar performance from Riley Keough, combined with an eerie ambiance, make this film what it is: a reminder that terror doesn’t always come from some external, supernatural force, but might be buried inside the most innocent of individuals.

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