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With: Riley Keough, Jaeden Martell, Lia McHugh, Richard Armitage, Alicia Silverstone
Written by: Sergio Casci, Severin Fiala, Veronika Franz
Directed by: Severin Fiala, Veronika Franz
MPAA Rating: R for disturbing violence, some bloody images, language and brief nudity
Running Time: 108
Date: 02/07/2020

The Lodge (2020)

3 Stars (out of 4)

Get the Hell Outta 'Lodge'

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Its silly setup aside, this ice-cold chiller has a confident command of every frame, using its creeping-dread rhythm and unsettling sound design to unfold its wry, brutal story in the cleverest way.

In The Lodge, journalist Richard (Richard Armitage) announces to his estranged wife Laura (Alicia Silverstone) that he'd like to finalize the divorce, because he wants to marry his new girlfriend, Grace (Riley Keough). Shocked, Laura commits suicide, leaving Richard with their two children, older son Aidan (Jaeden Martell) and younger daughter Mia (Lia McHugh).

Richard decides to let the kids get to know their future stepmom by setting them up in a remote winter lodge over a few days before Christmas, while Richard finishes up work in the city. The kids discover Grace's strange and sinister past, and then the three wake up to find the Christmas decorations gone, the generator broken, and all their food and clothing missing. Worse, Grace's medication has also vanished. Can they survive this ordeal, or will the darkness overtake them?

Coming from Austrian filmmaking team Severin Fiala and Veronika Franz, whose Goodnight Mommy (2014) had a similar horror dynamic (two unreliable kids in a house with an unsound adult), The Lodge is a most promising English-language debut. Though it's difficult to forgive the father character for thinking it's a good idea to send his children along with his girlfriend to a remote, frozen lodge where anything could go wrong, it's easy to forgive the filmmakers because of where they go from there.

Fiala and Franz cook up a scenario that could, truthfully, go any which way, and they effectively balance their slow suspense with horrifying shocks. Even after a major clue drops, they keep their juggling act going until the horrifying final shot.

Running through The Lodge is an undercurrent of commentary on religious hypocrisy and persecution, mainly connected to Grace's backstory, but the filmmakers keep their focus mainly on the story and characters, and on the movie's desperate mood. The performances by the children are impressive, but it's Keough that impresses; she keeps things constantly off-balance with her genuine, uncertain sense of torment and terror.

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