The Lodge film review: a feel-bad version of Stepmom

Severin Fiala and Veronika Franz’s latest horror The Lodge is chilling and atmospheric

From the makers of Goodnight Mommy, Severin Fiala and Veronika Franz (the Austrian nephew/aunt directorial duo) comes a chilling and atmospheric horror that goes to cruel places. Set in the snowy Colorado mountains their first English language film stars Riley Keough as a soon-to-be stepmother and taps into familiar maternal themes from their shocking debut fictional feature. Motherly devotion takes on a whole new meaning in The Lodge as it plays out like a feel-bad version of Stepmom.

Emotions run high in this eerie and unsettling film as it examines a family that has been split apart through divorce and tragedy. When dad Richard (Richard Armitage) suggests the kids, Mia (Lia McHugh) and Aidan (Jaeden Martell), get to know his fiancée better it is met with bitter resentment. The children love their mother Laura (Alicia Silverstone) and do not want to bond with ‘that woman.’ It’s not long before the kids are confined in a snowbound cabin alone with their new stepmother Grace when the power goes out, supplies disappear and paranoia sets in.   

The filmmakers’ toy with genre by cannily planting the seeds of suspicion as to the reality of their characters’ situation. While watching, Jack Clayton’s The Innocents, Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining and even Tim Burton’s Beetlejuice come to mind with the directorial duo gleefully playing off horror aficionados expectations.

The directors strike an uneasy atmosphere as Grace struggles through snowy, windswept locations and starts to lose her grip on reality. Effectively disturbing nightmare sequences add to the icy-cold ambience, but some similarities to the symbolism and miniatures in Ari Aster’s Hereditary may give viewers a sense of déjà vu. However, Keough’s intense and affecting performance pins the whole production together. Her impeccable turn as a woman on the edge really sells the gleefully nasty denouement in a film that twists a worrying love affair with guns, prescription pills and blind faith into a disorientating trip.