I Wrote my First Movie Review While Giving Birth to a Camera. It has followed me ever since. Please don't mind the Mess.
Severin Fiala and Veronika Franz
Sergio Casci, Severin Fiala and Veronika Franz
I get it.
You’re sick of watching Sonic The Lodge-hog every other day and you were never going to see Fantasy Island because you’re not a f*cking idiot. But your kids have been driving you up the wall and for moments at a time you indulge yourself the fantasy (again, no island) of leaving them in multiple feet of snow and letting them fend for themselves while you and your cabana boy or girl go to a remote island (but no fantasy) and drink drinks with little umbrellas and fancy propellers.
But you’re responsible so you’ll just go to the movies as The Lodge has a lot of snow in it.
And The Lodge is most definitely not family-friendly and that is why you should take your kids to see it the moment they start whining about Sonic The Hedgehog again. Or even if they want to go to Sonic Burger for a delicious Supersonic Jalapeno Double Cheeseburger with Mustard. That’s good eatin’!
Anyway, where was I?
Your kids won’t like The Lodge. They might be terrified of it. But it will teach them a valuable lesson on how to treat their future stepmother should the need arise.
Or they’ll just be traumatized. Either way, no more Sonic…the Hedgehog. But the burgers are aplenty.
The Lodge opens during the summer, when kids are playing outside, the sun is shining, kites are flying and no one has a care in the world because the summer and its good times will never ever end.
We meet Laura (Alicia Silverstone). She’s a mother of two children with teeth like alligators and feet like little brown raptors. Their names are Mia (Lia McHugh- Lia plays…Mia? Oh what fun they must have had on set saying that! #fun #pleasehelpme ) and Aiden (Jaeden Martell- It Chapter 1, It Chapter 2). They’re two of the greatest kids you could ever ask for having the summer of their lives. Nothing could possibly ruin it.
Laura is dropping Mia (played by Lia- never gets old) and Aiden (played by Jaeden- still never gets old!) off at their daddy’s house. His name is Richard (Richard Armitage) and he’s a successful writer.
Laura and Richard have been separated for a while. Richard wants to finalize the divorce. He’s going to marry another woman by the name of Grace.
Laura had been expecting this. She’s taking it well.
Laura puts a gun to her mouth and blows her head off.
Maybe not now.
It is amusing. But we now have to get somber because we’re at Laura’s funeral.
It’s probably closed casket because Laura has no head.
Aiden is coping by being sullen.
Mia is coping by strategically arranging her figurines in a dollhouse, just like Annie in Hereditary. That should work out well.
We cut to 6 months later just before Christmas, when families are celebrating the holidays and basking in the affectionate awesome afterglow of each other’s love. Laura is still headless and no longer alive.
Aiden and Mia are still #sadface their mom is dead. Richard has to do some business but will be back on Christmas day.
Richard proposes that Grace (Riley Keough) spend a couple of days alone with them so they can get to know each other. After all, Richard will be marrying Grace relatively soon. They’ve rented a giant lodge with all the amenities you might need if you’re stuck in snow with someone you hardly know.
It’s only a couple of days. What could possibly go wrong? Jack and Danny Torrance, please don’t answer that.
I mentioned earlier that Richard is a writer. But I forgot to mention that one of his books involved a cult that killed every one of its members except for a little girl that survived.
Grace just happens to be that little girl. Richard and Grace don’t seem to find it awkward but everyone else on the planet does.
Grace tries to make nice with Mia and Aiden, but they’re giving her the cold shoulder and not just because it’s snowing outside. It’s because their mom is dead. Grace has also brought her little dog Grady (Daniel Day-Lewis).
We feel bad for that dog. Not just because it’s named after the first caretaker in The Shining.
We feel good for everybody else, because nothing will go wrong with 2 children and a former cult member staying at a fancy lodge. Everything will go swimmingly.
Until the power goes out and the pipes freeze.
Until Grace starts having childhood flashbacks. She better not run out of her pills
At least no one’s mother is dead, because that would really put a damper on the holidays. As if!!!
What Works With The Lodge
- The first act is soaked in atmospheric dread. Goodnight Mommy directors Severin Fiala and Veronika Franz do a superb job of making you feel confined in a lodge with nowhere to go with a person you’re very much unsure of. Their visual and audio callbacks to other movies set a high bar…
- Jaeden Martell and Lia McHugh give the best performances of the movie as siblings trapped in a situation no one could have foreseen. They genuinely seem like siblings and show more range than you’d expect in a horror movie. Riley Keough gets the showier part, but McHugh and Martell carry the movie.
What Doesn’t Work With The Lodge
- After the first act, the pervading sense of anxiety is punctured once the viewer realizes it’s going nowhere fast. Scenes meant to be unsettling end up being overwrought and repetitive. Before too long the movie is going in circles. Like the snowstorm, it’s white all over with no end to the monotony. I say “White’ like sheer, not because every person in this movie is white.
- An ending that would have had more of an impact if it wasn’t telegraphed twice during the movie. You’re shown what could happen, and as a seasoned horror movie watcher you expect it to go a different way. It doesn’t and you wonder why it couldn’t have ended half an hour earlier.
If you like movies that take way too long to get where it needs to go, then you might want to visit The Lodge. Even if it promises more than it delivers. Even if nothing in the final act will surprise unless you were sleeping during the first hour. It’s not horrible, but it should/could have been so much better.