https://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=33007&reviewer=389

Lodge, The

Reviewed By Peter Sobczynski
Posted 02/07/20 15:23:08

"Baby It's Cold Inside"
2 stars (Pretty Bad)

With their acclaimed 2015 narrative feature debut, “Goodnight Mommy,” the writer-director team of Severin Fiala and Veronika Franz took a story that could charitably be called implausible and presented it with such style and precision, not to mention a flair for truly squirm-inducing imagery, for the duration of its running time that it was only long after it ended that it began to dawn on viewers that it didn’t make a hell of a lot of sense in hindsight. With their long-awaited follow-up, “The Lodge,” they have once again offered up a grim and horrific tale involving children, isolation and people who may not be exactly who they appear to be—this time in English and with a couple of familiar faces in the cast—but the whole thing is so preposterous practically from the get-go that it never manages to work up the feeling of quiet dread that it is clearly trying to achieve.

AS the film opens, journalist Richard (Richard Armitage) informs his estranged wife, Laura (Alicia Silverstone) that it is time for them to finalize their divorce as he plans on marrying his girlfriend, Grace (Riley Keough), who, we soon learn, was the only survivor of a religious death cult led by her father when she was a child. Needless to say, Laura does not take this news two well and when the story picks up six months later, Richard is trying to forge some kind of amicable relationship between Grace and his two children—teenager Aidan (Jaeden Martell) and his younger sister Mia (Lia McHugh)—who clearly blame her for what happened to their mother. His genius idea is for all of them to go out to the family’s isolated lakeside house to celebrate Christmas—sure, he will almost immediately leave them in order to go back into town for work but hey, they can use the time to bond and stuff. Things are slightly discomfiting at first—Grace is unnerved by both the religious iconography strewn about the house and Aiden’s tendency to peep on her when she is taking a shower, but things escalate quickly one morning when they all wake up to discover that the power is off, their phones no longer work, all their possessions—including food, warm clothes and, most importantly, Grace’s medication to keep her personal demons at bay—have vanished and a blizzard hits. Is there a rational explanation for all of this or is there something truly supernatural going on.

The film does eventually explain everything and when it does, it turns out to be wildly implausible in every possible way. Under normal circumstances, this might lead to groans and grumbles from viewers but since everything leading up to that point has proven to be equally nonsensical, it is unlikely that they will even register it. Even by genre film standards, what goes on here requires so many lapses of logic, starting with the half-assed explanation required to get Richard out of the house (not to mention the icky fact that he first met Grace while researching the story of her father’s cult for a book), that the screenplay by Fiala, Franz and Sergio Casci feels more like a lazy and increasingly half-assed attempt to rehash elements of “The Shining,” “The Others” and “Hereditary” than anything else and while they do manage to generate a convincingly frigid atmosphere, they don’t do much of anything with it. Another problem is that while Riley Keough delivers a technically fine and strong performance as the increasingly beleaguered Grace, she never for a moment comes across like someone whose sense of reality is in danger of completely shattering in the face of her haunted past and increasingly inexplicable present

“The Lodge” has been made with an undeniable degree of seriousness and stylishness, which only serves to further heighten just how nonsensical the whole thing really is. Fail and Franz are undeniably talented filmmakers and perhaps this film will serve as a calling card to allow them to go on to bigger and better things. However, to see them basically rehashing their previous work so early in their careers, especially to such little effect, is something infinitely more unnerving than anything that they have put on the screen this time around.

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