The Lodge: A little too quiet horror shocker from the directing duo from Austria

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The signs for "The Lodge" on a successful horror thriller are good: With the Austrians Veronika Franz (55) and Severin Fiala (35), the film has a capable directing duo, which with its internationally celebrated debut "Ich seh, Ich see "delivered an unusual shocker from 2014. There is a clear action that, despite its compactness, seems unpredictable. And an exciting cast that is reasonable for the genre, including the sought-after young star Jaeden Martell (17, "Es", "The Book of Henry") and Alicia Silverstone (43, "The Killing of a Sacred Deer").

However, she kills herself right at the beginning of the film after she learns that her husband Richard (Richard Armitage, 48, "The Hobbit" trilogy) divorced her and his younger friend Grace (Riley Keough, 30, "It Comes At Night ") wants to get married. Laura (Alicia Silverstone) suddenly shoots herself at the dining table, presumably she was suffering from psychosis. Because of her children Aiden (Jaeden Martell) and Mia (Lia McHugh), she has no inner conflict – not entirely credible, but necessary for the story.

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Supposedly idyllic seclusion in the mountains

Six months later, the situation has not fundamentally improved; Mia and especially Aiden distrust her father's strange newcomers and blame Grace for her mother's death. One evening, the two discover a video on their father's PC. It tells them that Grace was a member of a kind of obscure religious sect in which all members killed themselves. As the daughter of the cult leader, she was the only one to survive – Richard apparently got to know Grace through a story about the cult. She swallows pills against her trauma.

To bring the two parties together, Richard drives Grace and his children over the Christmas days to a remote hut in the mountains. Richard himself has to go back to town due to work, so the other three have to spend time together in the hut while the snow is quietly falling outside. "The Lodge" thus falls back on a familiar, chewed-up setting: a snow-covered mountain hut in the forest, seclusion, contrary protagonists crammed into a confined space – this is well known. Although the film plays relatively little in the dark, it does not create a disturbing image contrast as in Ari Asters (33) "Midsommar" (2019).

What's wrong with Grace?

The film is shot in the unmistakable style of director Yorgos Lanthimos (46, "Dogtooth", "The Lobster,") – no wonder, whose regular cameraman Thimios Bakatakis (50) also works here with shifted ceiling perspectives and unusual angles, what kind of the oppressive atmosphere results in an oppressive atmosphere, while the recurring religious motifs such as the image of the Madonna and the crucifix, which are accompanied by the mantras "Tu Buße" and "Repent your sins" echoing through the wooden hut, are too striking apparently to Grace from her past, which is more painful for her than she initially wants to admit, but what exactly is her problem, what is the woman afraid of?

In the course of the story, more and more inexplicable phenomena occur that cannot be uncovered for a long time. At first, the heating in the house stopped working, then the electricity failed and then the food supplies, Christmas presents and Graces medication also disappear. It is increasingly plagued by delusions, the cause of which cannot (yet) be determined. Is she haunted by the sect's demons, have the children bewitched her, or is it the spirit of the dead mother?

The strategy is similar to that of the horror hit "Hereditary – The Legacy" (2018). The filmmakers are launching an opaque distribution of roles for the audience. Who is afraid of whom and who or what is bad at all? Franz and Fiala skilfully lay wrong tracks, but exaggerate. As a result, there is no increasing tension curve – there are more stringed, choppy events that confuse the viewer, but do not really appear stringent in their approach and therefore ineffective. The often used genre subject of occultism is tiring here in the long run.

As a result, the final twist is ultimately unsuccessful, even though the ending is quite emotional – insofar as you couldn't already guess it.

Conclusion

Unfortunately, Veronika Franz and Severin Fiala did not outdo themselves with their second feature film "The Lodge". The horror thriller has a convincing cast, but its characters are not elaborated. The story is dense for a long time, but it disturbs itself in its tension and logic. The many unanswered questions have too many question marks. "The Lodge" is a quiet, unexcited, but also tough shocker who wants to fool the viewer for too long.