So I feel as if I’m the only person who has watched The Lodge, a physiological horror film that seems to play on the fear of isolation and a profound sense of not belonging.
The Lodge released in (select) theaters in 2019 and released on Blu-Ray on May 5th, 2020. I had known about the films existence for quite a while seeing previews for the film before watching both Midsommar and Parasite.
The short simple synopsis, Grace Marshall (played by Riley Keough) is stuck in a winter lodge during a heavy storm with two kids, Adain and Mia, who absolutely hate her as they are still grieving over the death of their biological mother. Their biological committed suicide after hearing the news from her ex-husband that he plans on marrying the woman, Grace, he had been interviewing her about her experiences of being raised in an extremist Christian suicide cult. During their stay, mysterious events begin to occur that seem to link to Grace’s past in the cult.
Before you finish reading this, please watch the film, as I will be spoiling the film from here on out.
So why the fuck am I so enamored with this film that according to most critics, whom which most are way more qualified than me when reviewing a film, say is a slightly above average film sitting around a 6 or 7/10 score?
BECAUSE EVERY SINGLE FUCKING REVIEW WAS EXPECTING A HERIDITARY-esc LIKE FILM WHEN COMING INTO THIS FILM.
From a distance this logic is understandable, the film’s trailer had been shown before films such as Midsommar and The Lighthouse, giving the expectation of a surrealist thriller, the film also shares an idea of a cult disrupting a grieving family.
But that’s not what the film is, which seems to have left a sour taste in many people’s mouths when watching the film.
The film is a more grounded physiologically thriller so that when a character breaks, the more surreal moments in the film are accentuated by the grounded nature surrounding it, such as adding a bit coffee powder to your hot coco to accentuate the chocolate flavor of the drink.
The big reveal of the film is that the kids in the film were trying to scare away Grace by bringing back her past and making her have a mental breakdown. An obvious twist that hides behind the presumed innocence of the children where in most horror movies of the style would have the kids just be a catalyst for whatever paranormal activity is occurring to react too.
The kids had a rough plan wherein they would slowly push Grace to her breaking point. They shut off the power, take away almost all the food, her clothes, and the electronics. The hide a speaker playing the audio of her father, the leader of the suicide cult, repeatedly stating that she repents for her sins. They make snow angels of the people in the cult that killed themselves. They move around paintings and crosses. Aiden fakes hanging himself as to convince that they are already dead. They let Grace’s dog run out into the cold blizzard to die.
With all this piling on Grace finally breaks, but with unexpected consequences that the children didn’t expect. After crying themselves to sleep to the sounds of Grace’s pained screams from kneeling on hot coals while she prays, the next morning Grace comes up to the attic with Mia’s doll and a revolver in which she “comforts” Mia and Adien telling her not to be afraid, and that death is already behind us. She burns Mia’s doll telling her that she needs to sacrifice her idols to the lord. Adien tries to tell Grace that it was all a trick but it’s too late, Grace is already broken.
Their father arrives just in time to the scene, Grace points the revolver to her head, ready to pull the trigger lost in her own mind. She pulls the trigger, the chamber is empty and a slight moment of relief is given. She laughs as she then points the gun at Richard (played by Richard Armitage), he approaches slowly in an attempt to grab the gun, but before he can, Grace shoots him point blank. The kid’s fail to run away and the film ends with Grace and the kids sitting at the dinner table with their dead father, and Grace singing “Nearer, My God, To Thee.”
So why the fuck does the film personally leave me with nightmares and have me wake up in tears? Well that would be simple, the film isolates you as a viewer
Let me explain; as you watch the film you notice the overwhelming amount of crosses in the film, the film constantly pushing the idea of Grace’s past onto you. Some are more obvious than others but there’s always the feeling of one there. It fills you with a certain dread that you just put in the back of your head. As Grace denies her past you deny it too.
The film isolates your trust, your feelings, and asks you what is going on. You the viewer are just as much stuck and isolated in the lodge as Grace, Aiden, and Mia.
The foreboding feeling that you can’t tell exactly if the kids are messing with her or if something from her past has come back to haunt her hangs over your head. The voices Grace hears, the crosses hanging around her, the feeling of always being watched, the idea that Grace might “snap” at any moment.
Grace denies her past, Mia and Aiden deny Grace as their stepmother, and Grace’s past deny’s Grace a moment of peace. She is stripped clean of her possessions, she is stripped clean of her sanity. Grace does not have her saving grace.
“Ye shall make you no idols nor graven image, neither rear you up a standing image, neither shall ye set up any image of stone in your land, to bow down unto it: for I am the LORD your God.”Leviticus 26:1, The King James Bible
Grace denies the idols of her past and at the end of the film asks Mia to burn the doll of her biological mother, telling her that she mustn’t hold onto her idols, just as Christians mustn’t hold a cross as an idol in the grievance of Jesus, Mia idols the doll of her mother in grieving, both still in spite of those who tell them not too, in denial of their passing or in hopes of them returning.
At the end of the film Grace denies the truth, broken and burned, Grace accepts her past for better or worse, leaving the kids to be presumably killed at the end of the film as Grace sings “Near, My God, To Thee,” a choir song that sings of coming closer to God by an angel’s beckon for those whom trust their faith to step forward to their lord.
A haunting, cold ending. Not the one people wanted, but a refreshing one to be sure. The ending is absolute and sends a chill up my spine. Its not what anyone expected, but it’s what we got, and for the better. Critics deny this film as many were expecting a Cabin Fever or Heriditary like premise, but The Lodge asks the viewer to sit down and accept it as it is, not as the idol many of its predecessors set it up to be.
A stepmother and two children whom deny her love. Just as she is not welcome into the children’s lives, she is not welcome in the eyes of her lord, and she isn’t welcome in the lodge that they reside in, only held there by the harsh unwelcoming nature that resides outside.
If you have time to, please watch The Lodge, and go in blind. A haunting film that many glossed over or panned with a warped perspective of the premise.