‘The Lodge’ review: cabin fever horror at its best

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Lia McHugh at the 2019 San Diego Comi Con International in San Diego. She plays Mia in "The Lodge."

Jacob Baker, Columnist

The creative minds behind 2014’s “Goodnight Mommy” are back with a new psychological horror film, “The Lodge.” The film successfully drags the viewer into the horrific reality of its world, making them question their own sanity.

Riley Keough plays Grace, soon-to-be stepmom of two kids, Aiden, played by Jaeden Martell and Mia, played by Lia McHugh. Saying the kids don’t like Grace is an understatement. The father, Richard, played by Richard Armitage, plans a trip up to the family lodge in the mountains for Christmas. The goal of the trip was a bonding opportunity for Grace and the kids.

Richard has to abandon the trip early for work, leaving Grace and the kids alone. Things start to get progressively worse for them. Tensions are high and a snowstorm has them trapped. Their belongings go missing and someone or something is behind it all, lurking in the dark.

“Goodnight Mommy” was dark, violent and full of dread, and “The Lodge” is no different. Severin Fiala and Veronika Franz wrote and directed both films, and yet again showcase their talent to create some of the best modern day horror in cinema. Both Fiala and Franz have solidified their place in horror through bone-chilling stories, sinister imagery and the willingness to take risks that many filmmakers won’t dare take.

Fiala and Franz take a humongous risk on the film’s climax. It probably isn’t the most exciting twist, but the result of it is met with a huge payoff. It’s a type of choice that will leave some viewers angry and some happy, and that divisiveness is already extremely evident. On Rotten Tomatoes, 73% of critics labeled the film “fresh,” while the audience rating is at a puzzling 50%.

One thing is for sure: “The Lodge” has no shortage of good performances. Keough’s performance perfectly balances between quiet and shy to absolutely terrifying. Both Martell and McHugh give extremely relatable and realistic performances of kids dealing with a new step-parent. For the time that he’s on screen, Armitage fits into his role as a father with ease.

Other notable additions that made “The Lodge” even more unsettling include the score and lighting. Musical composers Danny Bensi and Saunder Jurriaans never let the viewer escape the feeling of being being watched and the mystery of the unknown.

The lighting is used meticulously, only using a particular source of light when it makes sense, like letting the blue and white natural lighting of winter occupy the lodge with no added artificial lighting.  It added a more immersive feel to the film.

Despite the big reveal for the climax that could leave audiences divided, “The Lodge” is written and directed brilliantly, great performances are plentiful and the horror is top notch.