The Lodge (2019)
Another psychological thriller or shall we say chiller this Aussie winter? Yes, and brought to us by legends Hammer Films is The Lodge also brought to us by the directors of GOODNIGHT MOMMY. Set six months after their mother’s suicide, siblings Aidan and Mia’s father takes them for a family vacation to his soon to finance’s lodge. His finance Grace, played by Riley Keough with exact execution, was raised in a cult, Grace was the sole survivor of their mass suicide, led by her father, Aaron. The sibling’s father met her while researching a book about a fundamentalist Christian cult. While things start to begin to turn less frosty between the children and the soon to be stepmom things take a turn when they start experiencing strange events after their father returns to the city for a work commitment and leaves the three alone at the lodge.
Grace awakens a few days later to discover that all of her belongings- including her clothing, psychiatric medication, and pet dog- are missing. The food has also disappeared from the cabin, as well as Christmas decorations she put up the day before. The generator has gone out, leaving all of their cell phones dead. Grace suspects the children have prank-ed her, but finds their belongings missing as well. She notices the clocks in the house have advanced to January 9th. A then tearful Aidan tells Grace that he dreamed a gas heater in the living room malfunctioned and they all suffocated and expresses fear that they may be in the afterlife.
Over the following several days, Grace — succumbing to anxiety, medication withdrawal, hunger, and cold — begins sleep walking, and is tormented by disturbing visions and dreams, including the recurrent voice of her father sermonizing. She attempts to walk to the nearest town, she eventually travels in a circle, taking her back to the lodge. Buried in the snow, she discovers a photo of Aidan and Mia in a memorial frame, and inside, finds the children frantically praying over a newspaper article detailing the deaths of all three from carbon monoxide poisoning on December 22nd. Aidan hysterically insists they are in purgatory, and hangs himself in the attic as proof that they are dead, only to inexplicably survive.
Grace suffers a nervous breakdown, which intensifies when she finds her dog frozen to death outside. She then enters a catatonic state . Worried she might die of exposure, the children finally admit to Grace that they have been gas-lighting her the entire time, having drugged her, hidden their possessions in a crawlspace, and played recordings of her father’s sermons at night via a wireless speaker.
Mia has been calling Richard daily so that he will not suspect something is wrong. With their own phones dead at last, the children unsuccessfully attempt to start the generator and bring Grace her medication, but find her now completely insane and unhinged, wholly convinced that they are in purgatory and must do penance to ascend to heaven.
Later that night, the children find Grace burning herself on the hearth. They barricade themselves in the attic, but are confronted by Grace in the morning, who insists they must “sacrifice something for the Lord.” The sibling’s father returns to discover an inconsolable Grace brandishing his pistol. In an attempt to prove her belief that they are in purgatory, she fires the gun at him, killing him. Aidan and Mia attempt to flee in the car, but get stuck in the snow and an inconceivable nightmare at the remote cabin. Grace forces the children back into the lodge, where she seats them at the dinner table with their father’s corpse and sings “Nearer, My God, to Thee.”
The film may not be as meaty as most it is expertly crafted using light, sounds and manipulations that concoct emotions, fears and emotions not only in the characters but by the viewer as well. While quite the slow burn, the film lends itself to some clever psychological thrills and is not shy of using some common folk and fairy tale tropes to elicit fear and paranoia.
The film attempts to use a common horror genre to pull apart the horror of childhood trauma, religion, repression, extremism, paranoia, anxiety, sanity and insanity and the short bridge between them and what it takes to push the mental state of a person to the very edge. Whilst I wouldn't say this was one of the best psychological thrillers of 2019 it is definitely an enjoyable watch and executed in such a way that leaves the viewer uncomfortable and builds a more high brow methodological approach to building dread and uncertainty that seeps more and more into you as you become entrapped in the film and where it is taking you.
You’re not welcome here.