The Dallas Movie Screening Group

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Sunday, September 29, 2019

NTXFF - The Lodge

More drama than a horror movie, co-directors Severin Fiala and Veronika Franz’s film “The Lodge” is going to have a hard time finding an audience. It’s not creepy or thrilling enough to draw in the genre fans and it leans too far into genre territory to draw in the drama crowd. Like the film’s characters, who eventually become stranded in an isolated lodge, “The Lodge” is in a bit of a no man’s land.

The movie, co-written by Fiala and Franz along with Sergio Casci, begins with a mother, Laura (Alicia Silverstone), preparing her children, Aidan (Jaeden Martell) and Mia (Lia McHugh), to go to their father’s (Richard Armitage) house. When she arrives, their father, Richard, informs her that he intends to marry his girlfriend, Grace (Riley Keough), who is implied to be the reason for their separation. Though the signs are there, it’s still a surprise when, shortly into the movie, Laura suddenly kills herself. Fiala and Franz’s film is understandably dreary, drenched in an icy cold color palette even in the summer months that start the film.

Jump forward six months to the holiday season. With the family still reeling from the loss of Laura, Richard continues to try to insert Grace into the children’s lives. Though months have gone by since they have started dating, both children are adamantly against her inclusion when Richard suggests she joins them at their lodge for Christmas, proposing that he leaves her alone with them for a few days so they can get better acquainted. It is revealed that Richard has written a book about a religious cult and their mass suicide. Grace, the daughter of the leader, was the only survivor.

Fiala and Franz take their time building the story. The movie is filled with hazily shot interiors of a dollhouse, later revealed to be a replica of the family’s lakeside lodge. Inside, an assortment of dolls is strewn about in positions implying death – sprawled on the floor, falling off the couch, hanging from the attic rafters. Once Richard, the children, and Grace arrive at the lodge, the focus is on wide shots down dimly lit hallways. So frustratingly dark that it’s near impossible to tell what is going on. Late a night, a figure is seen creeping around the house.

Is this a ghost story? Is Grace still consumed by the ideals of her father? Will she snap and murder the family? Maybe she has been planning to kill them all along?
(Review by Bret Oswald)

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