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Friday, October 16, 2020

Review: The Lodge

Director: Severin Fiala and Veronika Franz

Screenplay: Sergio Casci, Severin Fiala, and Veronika Franz

Year: 2019

Well, let's start by tackling the fact that I chose "The Lodge" for the haunted house section for the "31 Days of Halloween" event. Many will argue that this is really a psychological thriller, and with all the reason, but it holds enough elements of this genre to be considered as such. If I have not convinced you about its merits to be considered in this genre by the end of this writing, I will abide by the power to classify as movies as I want on my page.

Aiden and Mia go spend the holidays with his father, Richard, in a remote cabin. Richard’s new girlfriend, Grace, joins the trio, something the kids don’t see with good eyes. The four starts spending time together, and right when Grace and the kids’ relationship was starting to improve, frightening stuff starts happening in the place.

“The Lodge” has what I consider one of the most unexpected and impactful scenes that I can remember from a movie in recent times. If you have seen the movie, I’m sure that you know what I mean, and if you have not, I will not ruin it for you. This scene takes place in just a few minutes in, and effectively a dense and gloomy atmosphere falls on the rest of the movie. 

Like in this scene, the directors Severin Fiala (“Goodnight Mommy”) and Veronika Franz (“The Field Guide To Evil”) use uncertainty and surprise as a weapon to develop the plot and the horror elements that accompany it. The way in which the story evolves around some tragic events and how the characters react to it makes the movie feel uncomfortable and startle the viewer, instead of opting for techniques closer to the horror genre. Some will argue that this moves it away from horror, but I consider that this was the right choice and that it has the opposite effect. 

For a good deal of the movie, events take place in the secluded cabin around Aiden (Jaeden Martell; “It”), Mia (Lia McHugh; “Along Came The Devil”), and Grace (Riley Keough; “Mad Max: Fury Road”), as well as the style used by Fiala and Franz to present it, holds several similarities to the haunted house genre. Objects that fall os disappear and dangerous events that only seem to happen around Grace are only a few of these. Although the directors make an effort to lead you towards that path, a sensation that something else is going on lingers, and this takes some strength out of its third act twist. 

The plot of “The Lodge” is a slow burn but has enough shakes on the way and subtleties to focus on that makes it intriguing. It makes the most out of the surprise factor to startle in a plot reigned by discomfort that creates an oppressive atmosphere. Can it be considered a haunted house movie? I’ll say it has enough elements for it, and a good portion of it points that way, although some can argue against it.

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