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Review: The Lodge (Sundance)

The Lodge (Sundance)
9 10

PLOT: Following the suicide of their mother, two kids find themselves trapped in a remote lodge over their Christmas holiday with their father’s girlfriend (Riley Keough) who also happens to be the sole survivor of a religious cult.

REVIEW: THE LODGE is Veronika Franz and Severin Fiala’s follow-up to their acclaimed GOODNIGHT MOMMY. A unique, slow burn of a thriller with some similarities to their earlier work (notably the anxiety of parenthood and a fear of children), THE LODGE is among the more unpredictable genre entries to come out in awhile, making it another elevated horror breakout along the lines of HEREDITARY.

Notably, it gives Riley Keough a meaty, star turn to chew on, as the new partner of Richard Armitage’s divorced dad, whose kids are recovering from a major trauma that makes this perhaps an ill-advised time to introduce a potential new parent.

Franz and Fiala expertly build tension right from the start, where an unexpected twist lets us know all bets are off and that anything can happen. While the lead, the directors hold off on introducing Keough until the second act, letting the kids discover her past as the daughter of a doomsday cult leader, with her having been the subject of their father’s book, leading to their romance.

What this does is allow us to be suspicious of Keough from the start, with her seeming to be perfectly normal, but what do we know? Will the kids be safe with her or will she be safe with them?

It actually takes a good forty minutes or so before the plot really kicks in, letting us get to know and like the family, with even some darkly humorous moments sprinkled in, like when Keough and the kids watch John Carpenter’s THE THING, despite being completely isolated in similarly wintery conditions, with them following it up with Michael Keaton’s JACK FROST perhaps the strangest double feature in cinema history.

At this point though, I have to stop, because like HEREDITARY, the only way to watch THE LODGE is not knowing what happens once the true horror kicks in. Suffice to say, it’s more terror of the psychological kind than gross-out or gore (the film is remarkably non-explicit), but it works beautifully. It’s also another unpredictable genre entry that one could define as “art-house horror”, a label that rubs me the wrong way, as I prefer to think of it as elevated horror, not that different from what movies like ROSEMARY’S BABY and THE EXORCIST were in the sixties/seventies. It’s horror that takes itself seriously.

Suffice to say, THE LODGE is a terrific nail-bitter, and gives Keough the chance to sink her teeth into a part that both takes advantage of her ethereal quality, but also allows her to play someone who’s deeply human, making her the kind of horror figure you may alternately fear and empathize with. I wouldn’t be surprised it this winds-up catching on in a big way post-fest, presuming the right outfit picks it up.

Source: JoBlo.com

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