Hey, THE LODGE is a horror film with a chilly snowbound setting so how can it not be fun? I’ll tell you how; it also happens to be one of those new-fangled emotionally torturous artsy flicks that make you feel like you’re losing your mind. You know the drill, fifty percent of the audience is going to find it brilliant, the other half will claim it’s boring and I’m going to end up hiding under a blanket tormented by suicidal thoughts and a feeling of incompleteness because I do not maintain an exact replica of my home in dollhouse form. Honestly, I don’t need this bad mojo right now, mid-to-late February is not the time to be playing around with crazy-making, mind-fuck flicks concerning isolation, damnation, purgatory and pet death, especially when said movie’s runtime is approximately forever-ish.
Don’t get me wrong, THE LODGE is basically a masterpiece when it comes to delivering waves and waves of impenetrable unease but so is every social media site I’m actively trying to avoid. I get it, you win, THE LODGE! You successfully made me feel like garbage for three days and counting- are ya happy now? Maybe you should just change your name to “HEREDITARY, HOLD MY BEER…” Folks, I can’t tell you how many nineties-era sitcoms with jaunty theme songs I had to watch just to regain a thimble full of equilibrium.
THE LODGE concerns a family who (for reasons I’ll never understand) celebrate Thanksgiving by hanging plastic roasted turkey ornaments outside and donning plastic roasted turkey hats. In other words, they are insane and are born to be insanity magnets and attract insanity wherever they go. Perhaps the only rational person presented is the mother played by the never lovelier, ALICIA SILVERSTONE who taps out of the nightmare universe this movie conjures as quickly as possible (via blowing her brains out). The empathy-free father decides a good way to celebrate Christmas with his two grief-stricken children is to force them into spending the holiday with his fiancé/mistress who just happens to be the emotionally fragile, lone surviving member of a death cult- and her dog Grady who is clearly named after the psycho caretaker in THE SHINING. After a near-death experience on a frozen lake, pop gets a call from work and supposes it’s totally cool to leave his children with someone they barely know and hold directly responsible for their mother’s early departure from this mortal coil. One evening, the trio makes the questionable decision to watch THE THING (1982) and JACK FROST (1998) back to back and for their folly wake up trapped in a purgatory chuck full of eerie occurrences that may or may not be hallucinations and a nonstop parade of ominous omens.
There are a couple of images in THE LODGE that I will likely drag with me to the grave and I don’t appreciate that. When it comes to choosing sides on the verdict of “boring” or “brilliant”, I’m going to have to begrudgingly lean toward “brilliant” simply because there were times during this movie in which I feared I myself might be dead and I had to resist the urge to stand up and scream until I was assisted out of the building. That said, I can’t imagine a scenario where I would ever subject myself to watching this movie again. It may have to be filed in the cursed movie file in my head along with DER TODESKING (‘90) and V.I. WARSHAWSKI (‘91). Then again, maybe I could watch this movie in the summer during a completely different mental state and find joy in its fragrant symbolism and wrecking ball pessimism. It should be said that that the performances in this movie are all top-notch. RILEY KEOUGH, as tortured Grace, compellingly rides a razor blade between sympathetic and off-putting and LIA McCUGH, as Mia, is heartbreaking and should be a shoo-in to play a young FLORENCE PUGH if there’s ever a MIDSOMMAR prequel.
I ultimately give this movie props for mercilessly ruffling my psychological feathers just as it intended to but can’t argue with anyone who finds it manipulative and heavy-handed as well. Love it or lump it, I think everyone can agree it’s a painful watch and a kick in the shins reminder that perhaps the only order to this world is the order you construct yourself. Now I’m off to punish myself further by watching the hell that is JACK FROST. It’s what I deserve. I must repent!