Did you enjoy the Austrian masterpiece that was “Goodnight Mommy” from 2014? Its authors and directors are back with a brand new film entitled “The Lodge”. Directing in English for the first time, Severin Fiala and Veronika Franz did not disappoint when their motion picture made its Canadian premiere at Montreal’s Fantasia International Film Festival.
Richard (Richard Armitage; “The Hobbit” series) takes his two children Mia (Lia McHugh) and Aidan (Jaeden Martell; star of the “It” remake from 2017) to a small cottage in the heart of the woods to celebrate Christmas and spend a few days to bond as a family. He brings his new girlfriend, Grace (Riley Keough; “Mad Max: Fury Road”), the lone survivor of a cult’s mass suicide, much to the dismay of his children who are not fond of her at all. When Richard needs to leave for a few days for work-related reasons, Grace is left on her own, trying to form any kind of relationship with Aidan and Mia. However, as the snow piles on outside the cottage, the atmosphere gets even colder inside as strange events keep getting stranger.
Just like in “Goodnight Mommy”, there is nothing funny about “The Lodge”. There is no dark humor or typical comedy-horror clichés in the writing and directing from the Fiala-Franz duo. The atmosphere is dark, cold, and awkward. We are shocked to our core almost right from the get-go. With a slight lull afterwards, we are then dragged down, ever so slowly, into the film’s murky abyss. The storyline is superbly sewn together to elevate the Austrian directors to a status that must be kept on your horror radar following the success of their two heavily intense films. Additionally, the score, composed by Danny Bensi and Saunder Jurriaans, latches its claws onto you and won’t let go as it snowballs into an unsettling crescendo of anxiety.
It’s also very pleasant to see Jaeden Martell performing another lead role, he who hasn’t been seen on the silver screen since his incredible performance as “Bill” from “It” (2017). His acting is credible and genuine, reacting the same way most teenagers would when being forced to attempt to bond with their new step-mother. Riley Keough is the key of the cast, however. Her character is very enigmatic, due to her bizarre past, and we constantly change our opinion concerning her true intentions within the remote lodge. Her performance is creepy, delicate, and puzzling all at once. “Fun Fact” about Mrs. Keough: she is Elvis Presley’s eldest grandchild. With an additional cameo from Alicia Silverstone, this modest, yet talented cast will throw you off your feet.
As mentioned above, Severin Fiala and Veronika Franz must be watched for any future related horror projects. “The Lodge” will pulverize every emotion in your body and stomp whatever remains into mush. It deserves a score of 8/10 and was my best film of Fantasia’s 2019 edition.
Article written by Simon Rother