Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (August 3, 2020)
No one will earn points for creativity when it comes to the title of 2019’s The Lodge. A horror tale, it takes place in… a lodge.
Richard Hall (Richard Armitage) dates Grace Marshall (Riley Keough) and plans to marry her. However, his kids don’t seem to take to kindly to this interloper, especially because their mother Laura (Alicia Silverstone) killed herself as a response to the divorce.
Richard, Grace and youngsters Aiden (Jaeden Martell) and Mia (Lia McHugh) retreat to a remote cabin so they can spend some quality time together. However, Richard needs to leave to tend to a work-related emergency, and this leaves Grace alone to bond with the kids.
That seems like a big enough challenge as it stands, but matters complicate when a blizzard traps the threesome. There they deal with some creepy events that connect to Grace’s past.
Whereas most modern horror movies shoot for obvious, loud fright, Lodge belongs firmly to the “slow burn” school. It brings more of a psychological tale than one with jump scares and trite attempts at contrived terror.
For that, I feel appreciative. Far too many horror flicks take the easy way out and just opt for the lowest common denominator in their uninventive stabs at horror.
While this means I respect the aims of Lodge, though, I feel less pleased with the end result. Most horror flicks clock in around 90 minutes, but this one stretches its story to the 108-minute mark.
Plenty of films boast the content necessary to push that close to the two-hour mark, but Lodge doesn’t fall into that category. Unnecessarily slow, the movie takes way too long to get where it needs to go.
Again, I appreciate the gradual approach to a degree, but Lodge doesn’t use its time to build much tension. It does create an interesting curveball due to Laura’s death, though.
Given the presence of recognizable star Silverstone, the audience likely expects she’ll play a major part in the proceedings. However, Lodge goes the Psycho route and offs her early in the tale.
Since Hitchcock used it 60 years ago, that no longer becomes the most clever twist, but it works nonetheless. The fact the movie disposes of Silverstone’s role so quickly throws us off guard and means we go into the tale with an unstable sense of what to anticipate. Because horror usually acts as arguably the most predictable genre, this attempt to shake up expectations becomes a positive.
Unfortunately, this twist doesn’t add that much, and other cinematic allusions create comparisons to which Lodge doesn’t fare favorably. Although the movie shows clips from 1982’s The Thing, it comes with a definite Shining vibe.
Both films take place in remote, snowbound locations, and both show one character who slowly goes crazy. While I don’t love Shining, it seems considerably stronger than the sluggish Lodge.
As noted, Lodge runs at a slow pace, and it tends to feel long just for long’s sake. We don’t find a narrative need for the movie to go at such a glacial rate.
This means the story takes forever to get anywhere, and it often bogs down in irrelevant plot points. Lodge lacks the substance it needs to fill a full 108 minutes.
Despite these drawbacks, I don’t think Lodge becomes a bad movie. It provides a reasonably moody tone, and it forces us to stay attentive to separate reality from insanity.
I just think this would’ve been a more effective horror story if it ran about 15 to 20 minutes shorter. This makes it a watchable but inconsistent flick.