It’s difficult to imagine a more hateful film than Veronika Franz and Severin Fiala’s The Lodge. I have read many critics praising the film by comparing it to The Shining and Hereditary, but I would ask, when does similarity become less than homage and sit firmly in the realm of ripoff? Just because you’ve assembled horror cliches in a way we haven’t seen before doesn’t mean your film isn’t anything we haven’t seen before. There is one major exception to this, but we’ll get to that later.
SPOILER ALERT (but please don’t waste your time seeing this film)
Here are a list of cliches The Lodge indulges in to ultimately come to its trite, nasty, and uninteresting conclusion:
- Someone commits suicide at the beginning of the film
- Evil and/or misunderstood stepmother
- Grieving family
- Religious cult
- Old cabin in winter
- Dog dies for sympathy
- Major plot points and transitions illustrated by a dollhouse
- Falling into freezing water under ice
- Dad has to leave for work out of nowhere
- Family members do not communicate
- Horny teenage boy
- Horny teenage boy facing no consequences for spying on someone naked
- “The power’s out!”
- “Phones are dead!”
- Gun with a few bullets left
- Creepy kids
- Kids in peril
- Women in peril
- Duct tape over mouths
- Crosses and crucifixes
If you’ve seen any horror film in the past 50 years, you have seen 90% of The Lodge. The 10% that is original and that could have made this interesting involves the kids tricking their vulnerable stepmother into believing she’s in purgatory. She was raised in a religious cult, and has been deprogrammed to some degree, but certain things can trigger her memory and lead her back into her original brainwashing. The kids are aware of this and they use it to their advantage simply because they don’t like her. She has done nothing to them except have the audacity to marry their father.
Riley Keough is a great actress, but this script gives her nothing of note to do until the final sequence in which she sings an eerie hymn before exacting her revenge. But here’s the thing – they don’t even show you her full revenge. The one thing that could have given the audience catharsis (because by the end you will hate these kids, there’s no way around it) is communicated only by a cut to black. This film exhibits the worst kind of hipsterism and edgelord mentality, and it expects you to think it’s got something of substance on its mind. There is no substance here. There are only cliches and hatred.
The stepmother here is trying to fit into society. The kids don’t want her to, and they force her back into the darkness.
I suspect there will be many hundreds of people coming out of religious cults in America in the next decade and beyond. We’ve already seen some of the Westboro Baptist Church folks deprogram themselves. How shitty, then, to make and widely distribute a film which says, “If you’re crazy now, you’ll be crazy forever.”
***P.S. This is an unbelievably slow and tedious exercise. If you don’t like slow-moving films, avoid this one like the plague.***
1 hr, 48 min; rated R for disturbing violence, some bloody images, language and brief nudity
‘The Lodge’ is now playing in theaters nationwide (sadly)