‘The Lodge’ loses potential with lack of cohesive storytelling

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Photo Credit: Courtesy of Hammer Film Productions | Daily Texan Staff

In another typical horror movie involving a desolate cabin, “The Lodge” does little to break out of the stereotypical trope. 

Directed by Veronika Franz and Severin Fiala (“Goodnight Mommy”), “The Lodge” tells the story of a young brother and sister, Aidan and Mia, whose lives are suddenly disrupted when their mother commits suicide. Now living with their father, Richard, and his new fiancée, Grace, the siblings are forced into a family vacation at a winter lodge. However, when Richard suddenly has to leave for work, Grace and the kids find themselves stranded in a series of snowstorms and trapped within a terrifying chain of events.

The movie immediately sets up its disturbing nature through bizarre framing. Several scenes in the first act are in a constant state of being zoomed in, which is much more distracting than it is unsettling. Many shots of characters are from an overhead perspective and the effect makes the movie seem more amateur than unique. The stylistic decisions become more natural within the progressing story, but they certainly feel out of place in earlier scenes.

While an intense soundtrack successfully causes unease, the movie’s ability to scare viewers is diluted with questionable production decisions. There are several scenes where props such as a roasted turkey dinner look so incredibly fake it draws viewers out of the scene. Small inconsistencies are partially compensated by the beautiful snowy terrain where the movie takes place, but at times even this seems fake, such as when a random abandoned home appears in the middle of a blizzard with little context or relevance to the story.

In an attempt to tackle several different directions, the movie creates too much confusion for it to be thoroughly enjoyable. Though it succeeds at the occasional jump scare, the true horror aspect of the film is lost within its unfocused writing and disorganized narrative where the “frightening” aspects don’t add much to the plot. Omitting smaller, random details like the recurring image of a dollhouse would have made the overall picture much stronger. And if viewers are looking for a plot twist, they will certainly get one, but the outcome feels cheap and disappointing.

Partially saving the unfocused writing is the magnificent cast. Riley Keough is entirely captivating with her vulnerable and unnerving portrayal of Grace. Successfully conveying a magnitude of emotions expressed on her face, Keough’s performance makes up for the lack of dialogue otherwise. Jaeden Martell (“It”) flourishes with the opportunity to prove once again that he was made for horror movies. Showcasing his maturing talent, Martell’s portrayal of Aidan is hard to figure out for most of the film, making every scene he is in feel slightly unsettling in an appropriate way for the character.

Overall, “The Lodge” is more pretentious than it is enjoyable. Trying to tackle too many things at once, the outcome is ultimately messy and the potential for it to be a great horror film is lost.

2.5 misplaced doll houses out of 5