The Lodge

 

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Bundle up and prepare to shiver.

   

Lodge, The

 

Horror is virtually synonymous with Hammer, the British production company best known for the Gothic horror films they produced in the mid-50s to early-70s. Among the most popular were films that resurrected classic Universal monsters from their cinematic graves. Dracula, Frankenstein, and the Mummy all enjoyed their first forays in colour under the direction of Terence Fisher, each spawning a series of sequels. Actors Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee were among the most frequent and familiar faces of Hammer horror. After remaining stagnant for decades, the brand came back from the dead when purchased in 2007. The revived Hammer went on to release such films as Let Me In, The Resident (featuring Christopher Lee, a mere 35 years after his last Hammer film in 1976), The Woman in Black, and The Quiet Ones. After a few additional quiet years (and a recent worldwide distribution deal with StudioCanal), Hammer makes a welcome return with The Lodge.

 

Following in the footsteps of genre predecessors such as The Shining and, more recently, Hereditary, The Lodge is heavy on atmosphere and subject matter. An investigation of grief and trauma, the film follows a family torn apart by infidelity. Shortly after tragedy strikes, father Richard (Richard Armitage) declares to children Mia (Lia McHugh) and Aidan (Jaeden Martell, from the It films and Knives Out) that they’ll be spending Christmas at the family lodge in remote Massachusetts – and Grace (Riley Keough), once the other woman and now dad’s fiancée, will be joining them. After Richard is called away on urgent business, the children find themselves in the uncomfortable situation of sharing the family space with Grace, while a snowstorm looms.

 

Under the direction of Austrian talents Veronika Franz and Severin Fiala, impending dread fills every frame. Elevated by the crisp cinematography of Thimios Bakatakis, cabin fever is contrasted with wide open spaces, which often recede into pure darkness. The film is well cast, with Alicia Silverstone bringing considerable presence to a featured role. The performances are grounded in complex emotion, particularly the impressive work of Riley Keough (granddaughter of Elvis Presley). She skilfully balances our sympathy and distrust in the role of surrogate, soon-to-be stepmother Grace, a name that serves as a thematic epithet. Like the upside down cross of the marketing campaign, the film is full of inversions. Those looking for jump-scares won’t find much of that here. This slow-burning, psychological horror boils over in acutely unnerving ways.

 

CHAD KENNERK

 

Cast: Riley Keough, Jaeden Martell, Lia McHugh, Alicia Silverstone, Richard Armitage, Lola Reid.

 

Dir Veronika Franz and Severin Fiala, Pro Simon Oakes, Aliza James and Aaron Ryder, Screenplay Sergio Casci, Veronika Franz and Severin Fiala, Ph Thimios Bakatakis, Pro Des Sylvain Lemaitre, Ed Michael Palm, Music Danny Bensi and Saunder Jurriaans, Costumes Sophie Lefebvre.

 

FilmNation Entertainment/Hammer Films-NEON.

108 mins. 2019. UK/USA/Canada. US Rel: 7 February 2020. Cert. R.