After a stepmom and her fiancé’s two children are snowed in during a winter vacation, they must learn to get along with each other, while also facing some frightening supernatural events, at the same time.
The ability to connect and sympathize with other people has always been a staple in cinema from any country. Whether it’s a violent Tarantino film, a Bong Joon-ho thriller or an animated Disney adventure, the audience has always found at least one character to side with. And like modern films such as Joker have previously shown, it is that social isolation is becoming more of an issue in regular culture. Most times, it is understandable why anyone would want to distance themselves, from individuals who seem scary. However, this allows for discriminatory behavior to go unchecked and while The Lodge is not focused so much on those issues, it shows how isolation can divide families.
Themes of value are present throughout, but in unexpected ways that challenge the viewer, rather than showing the issue at the surface level. The way we turn against others and ourselves when we do not understand our current circumstances is scarier than the consistent feeling of needing to belong. The narrative focuses on stepmom Grace’s (Riley Keough) perspective, as well as Aidan’s (Jaeden Martell) and Mia’s (Lia McHugh) impression of her. As the film progresses, small details are slowly revealed, leading to a 2nd half that changes the outcome of the movie, as a whole. The commentary on religious beliefs has a reason to be there, other than providing scares and tension. Grace is revealed to have been apart of a cult early on, but no one stops to ask why she believes the things she does. This further makes a case for why isolation can be so destructive, as she spends most of the movie, trying to overcome her religious upbringing, instead of challenging these convictions.
The story has a few noticeable plot holes and is still pretty slow, even under two hours and it was always difficult to tell where things were going. Nothing truly investing happens until the second half, but thanks to the tension from Grace’s character combined with the film’s supernatural events, there are occasional moments that the audience will find interesting. The camera work is very beautiful to look at, despite not having much to say story wise, and all of the acting is very convincing, with Jaeden Martell and Lia McHugh providing some of the best child performances to date. And a word must also be said for Riley Keough who gives a fantastic and terrifying performance as their stepmom, Grace Marshall. The score is haunting and enhances every scene it is used, but it can be too revealing for the plot, at times.
Many will compare this film to Hereditary, as there are supernatural elements involved and a doll house that sets the stage for each act. But overall, this is a creative horror film that takes risks narratively, even if it feels like something we have already seen story wise. Frankly, I have not seen a film in quite a while that uses religion to better develop its story, instead of just mocking it as a joke. Neon continues to produce and distribute some of the most well made movies of our current time, (Parasite, Portrait of a Lady on Fire) and although not every one is flawless, their creativity and dedication are always helpful, welcome, and inspiring.
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