How sure are you, in this exact moment- that you know what is real and what is not? Now sit and examine why. What is your tether to reality? The Lodge takes its viewer on a claustrophobic, atmospheric, mind-bending, and brutally isolating ride. The Lodge is cold in every sense of the word and it is as relentless as the harsh, icy climate it’s set in.
The Lodge, directed by Severin Fiala and Veronika Franz (Goodnight Mommy, Field Guide to Evil), centers around new fiancé Grace, played by the incredible Riley Keough, and her soon to be step-children Aiden (Jaeden Martell) and Mia (Lia McHu) as they try to spend a warm Christmas together in the family cabin. Before we get too far into the film- the dedication and talent of these three actors is unparalleled. With a runtime of 108 minutes, we are with these three characters on their dark and devastatingly harrowing journeys that never let up, EVER. Riley Keough carries multiple plotlines at every given time, and the whiplash the viewer gets from one minute to the next is extremely uncomfortable- which is a testament to her absolute powerhouse of a talent. Jaeden (IT, Knives Out) and Lia (Enternals) not only hold their own, but deliver performances worthy and deserving of any award. Listen. Just give them all the awards. ALL OF THEM. I was so impressed with every actor in this film- to the point where I found myself hoping they received a solid 4 weeks of me-time and candy and happy things after filming because the way these characters handle trauma were UNPLEASANT to put it lightly.
In the first ten minutes this film tells you what it’s going to be. It warns you. There is no legevity, there is no breaks. It is a slow burn that eats away any good faith or hope that things will get better until it’s teeth gnawing on bone. The inside of this film is cold and that’s how viewers will feel. It’s disorienting the same way getting lost in a blizzard is. I’ve heard that in a heavy snowstorm it’s possible to get ice blindness- you lose all sense of direction. Because I like to scare myself with nature as well as cinema, I’ve read any account of Everest climbers I can get my hands on. There are many accounts of hikers slowly losing oxygen the higher they climb. I’ve read accounts of people calmly walking directly off cliffs, undressing due to hypothermia induced psychosis. The cold is unforgiving. The Lodge is Everest, for its characters and for its viewers.
The underlying theme that is always present right under the soft snow banks that pile on to the porch of the log cabin is trauma. Pick a trauma, it’s there. Much like Hereditary, another dizzying psychological beast- The Lodge brings in insentient objects and treats them as fully fleshed, living characters themselves. A dollhouse. A doll. The snow. The ice. The cabin itself. The other character that’s ever present is time. The Lodge is set like a linear film but behaves in a world where time doesn’t mean anything and is often misleading. When you cannot heal from trauma or you push it down, you become stuck in time. You are always sucked back into a dark place- like being trapped in a cold cabin in the middle of tundra with no heat and rising anxiety. The Lodge examines the human reaction to trauma, repressed emotion, events, and fears. Like ice in spring heading into summer, once you open a deep, emotional wound it’s hard to harden it away and once you do those feelings will overflow and melt eventually.
The Lodge is not for the faint of heart. I would say it’s the type of movie I loved, but probably won’t see again anytime soon, it’s that heavy. (And that is saying something from me, the queen of not being rattled by horror.) I would classify this movie as a psychological thriller, with slow burn raw horror aspects. Overall it’s a gorgeous, cruel, and isolating film, with one of the most talented casts and writers I’ve ever seen.