If you’re looking for a movie to crawl under your skin and lodge itself in the darkest part of your brain, oh boy do I have the film for you. The Lodge is a psychological horror film, that is more interested in building dread than creating scares.
There is little that can be said of The Lodge without giving too much away. Suffice to say, Riley Keough plays Grace, a young woman in a relationship with a man played by Richard Armitage. He has two children from his previous marriage and wants Grace and the kids to bond at the family lodge in the days leading up to Christmas. However, it’s not a happy week in the woods. Things go very wrong in every conceivable way.
The plot doesn’t stand up to serious scrutiny. Honestly, as I go over it in my head, the plot mechanics really don’t add up. It doesn’t really matter though. The practicalities are less important than the overall effect. Because the actions these characters take are far less important in the movie than the results of those actions. And oh boy do they have some intense results. The movie is an interesting exploration of a damaged psyche and how badly people can hurt one another when pushed to extremes.
Riley Keough is mesmerizing as Grace. She has a quiet intensity and a deeply engaging look that holds the attention no matter what she’s doing. She has a great natural quality at the start of the film and as things go wrong her frazzled harried inner self is communicated through those eyes.
The film is really well shot. It looks natural and yet unnatural at the same time. There are moments where the lens is so wide it distorts the room to make everything looked warped and twisted. Yet throughout the second half of the film it appears to be shot entirely with natural lighting. This makes everything look more or less the same way our eye would see it if we were there. But that natural lighting also creates vast dark shadows that swallow up whole portions of the house behind the characters.
This is not a traditionally scary movie. It’s aim isn’t to make you jump or keep you up at night. It wants to upset you and insert a splinter into your mind. It wants to get inside your head and make you squirm a little, and it succeeds. If that doesn’t sound like a pleasant experience to you then definitely skip this one. For me it worked because of the wonderful performances, the rich atmosphere, and the exceptional camera work. It also helps that it is a nice change of pace from the scary movies I’ve been watching recently. It’s my cup of tea. B+