Over the past five years, the world of indie horror has been dominated by A24, a studio best known for hits like “Hereditary” and “The Lighthouse.” That dominance has been challenged however by NEON, a studio known for award winning films such as “Parasite” and “I, Tonya.” With their newest film “The Lodge,” NEON proves they are a competitor in the horror genre.
Directed by Veronika Franz and Severin Fiala, “The Lodge” follows a brother and sister named Aidan (Jaeden Martell) and Mia (Lia McHugh) as they stay in a lodge for a weekend with their soon to be stepmom named Grace (Riley Keough). During the weekend, Grace’s past starts to haunt her and it eventually affects both her and the kids.
There are very few horror films that keep me disturbed throughout the runtime. “The Lodge” not only manages to be disturbing for 108 minutes, but it also has viewers questioning who should be in a child’s life after a parent dies.
Keough gave a phenomenal performance as a tortured woman who escaped a cult when she was young. Keough seamlessly blended into roles throughout her career. While her roles in “It Comes at Night” and “American Honey” are nothing to brush off, her skill of inhabiting a character is top notch in “The Lodge.” From her breathing to her frantic movements, Keough proves that she is an underrated actress that Hollywood needs to keep an eye on.
The claustrophobic nature of the house where the majority of the film takes place reminds me of “The Shining,” since you have three people trapped inside a building during a snowstorm. However, unlike “The Shining,” there is a religious undertow to the film which is beautifully handled by a strong script. Franz, Fiala and Sergio Casci’s writing doesn’t bog viewers down with long periods of exposition. Instead, the script is concise and filled with turns that are hard to predict. There are points that feel a little derivative of “Hereditary” or “Midsommar,” but those points are few and far between.
What impresses me the most about “The Lodge” is the balance between the spiritual world and reality. Unlike “The Lighthouse” which felt too abstract and focused on being stylish, Franz and Fiala tried to make a film that would be the most realistic interpretation of having people stuck in a house while fighting personal demons. They not only pulled it off well, but there were moments where I thought the film felt real. McHugh’s performance was great as a terrified girl who is trying to move on from her mother’s death. Martell’s performance was good but he could have put more emotion into certain scenes.
“The Lodge” is one of the most intriguing horror films of the past five years. It explores trauma and spirituality in a mature and sensible manner. Despite some similarities to other horror films, Fiala and Franz were able to craft a movie that stands on its own. The only puzzling part of the film is why NEON decided to release it over a year after its 2019 Sundance Film Festival Premiere. Whatever the reason, “The Lodge” is a must see if you are a fan of horror movies.
Ian Ward is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.