Cast: Riley Keough, Jaeden Martell, Lia McHugh, Richard Armitage
Directors: Veronika Franz, Severin Fiala
It only took us a month, but we finally got a good horror movie in 2020. Finally the void has been filled with a movie that includes true, genuine suspense and discomfort and regardless of when it came out The Lodge could realistically end up as one of the best horror movies of the year. Through a combination of pure psychological torture and an environment that always keeps you guessing, The Lodge provides a phenomenal performance from Keough and evidence that you don’t need a huge budget or a great release date to emerge as a strong and horrifying movie.
The film follows Grace Marshall (Keough), a woman dating writer Richard Hall (Armitage) after his wife killed herself and left her children Aiden (Martell) and Mia (McHugh) without a mother. When Richard suggests the group spend Christmas together in a remote cabin, everything seems fine until they get there. As weather conditions take a turn and we learn more about the family and Grace and the dark secrets they’re both hiding. The main thing that makes The Lodge so successful is the fact that we never quite know what’s going on, but nothing is ever confusing or unexplained. It’s almost a textbook definition of tension considering there’s no jump scares and the movie relies heavily on the feeling of dread. I can’t tell you the amount of times I had this feeling in my stomach of, “oh no,” as we see someone approaching an uneasy situation. You can tell after watching this movie that the directors were fans of Hereditary and while not quite as developed as that movie, you can see how well the influence works in this environment. Between the weather, the family dynamics, and the presence of religion, there are enough things going on where the movie can go in any particular direction and still keep audiences guessing. This is probably the meatiest role that Keough’s ever acted in and she’s absolutely proven that she can handle a major role in any genre. I hope she ends up doing more movies like this, because it allows her to tackle the psychological side of characters in a way that very few movies can. While not the greatest horror movie of all time, The Lodge does plenty of things well and will be a movie that stays with you long after the credits roll. Maybe it’s because I wasn’t expecting anything like this so early on in the year, but I’m curious how the rest of the year stacks up and if The Lodge ends up as the king of 2020. Hopefully not because that means we get 10 months of average to below-average releases, but I wouldn’t be disappointed if this ended up as one of my favorite horror movies of the year. Neon seems to have another hit on their hands as they found a lower-budget horror movie and have crafted it in a way that will haunt horror fans and also bring in new fans who don’t traditionally like these types of films.
Overall, if all early-year horror movies looked like The Lodge then we’d never have the negative association with horror movies released in the winter. The Lodge is smart, captivating, and shows that fear can root itself in many different fashions. With an attention to detail that keeps audiences in the loop and covering a variety of topics that I wasn’t anticipating in this specific environment, The Lodge pays homage to many of the great horror movies that came before it while also providing us with something new and fresh to enjoy.
Overall Score: 7.5/10