The Lodge (2020)

A midnight-dark, ice-cold atmosphere of disquietude, astriction, & suicidal depths of psyche with a fine winter aesthetic and score.. absolutely wasted by one of the most quixiotic, pointless, clichéd, & imbecilically-scripted plots of All-Time. 2.3/10.

Plot Synopsis: During a family retreat to a remote winter cabin over the holidays, the father is forced to abruptly depart for work, leaving his two children in the care of his new girlfriend, Grace. Isolated and alone, a blizzard traps them inside the lodge as terrifying events summon specters from Grace’s dark past.

*Possible Spoilers Ahead*

Review

Winter & Cabin Fever

From Kubrick To Fargo To Zhivago to Carpenter to Black Christmas To Better Watch Out, Keystone of Genre – & A24?

Photo Courtesy Of: Neon x Film Nation

Winter and Cabin Fever/Terror. From Kubrick to Fargo to Zhivago to Carpenter’s Thing to Black Christmas to Better Watch Out, the season and concept has been a cornerstone for horror and thrillers capitalizing on the yuletide desolation and frosty atmospherics. A24 has been on a mega-hotstreak of late; in CLC’s vote, they’ve become the world’s premier indie and horror production brand out-of-nowhere.. in just a few years time, favoring clever-innovation and intellectual weightiness over pop culture while still pumping it through with enough production value and resources to moonlight as a blockbuster. I guess nothing lasts forever.. The Lodge is the most pretentious, pointless, painful, pathetic attempts at icy atmospheric terror I’ve seen in a long, long time. A midnight-dark, ice-cold atmosphere of disquietude, astriction, & suicidal depths of psyche with a fine winter aesthetic and score.. absolutely wasted by one of the most quixiotic, pointless, clichéd, & imbecilically-scripted plots ever. A frontrunner for the worst film of 2020 so far.

The Positives

The Dark Atmospherics, Riley Kenough’s Performance, Cinematography/Setting, & Score – The Behind-The-Scenes Should Be Outraged Of This Waste

Photo Courtesy Of: Neon x Film Nation

It would be remiss to say the entire film is awful in every way. The atmospherics, Riley Kenough’s performance, cinematography/setting, and score are very good.. even, ~great. There is a thick-frosted aura of darkness and the deepest suicidal depths of mankind’s psyche from its shocking opening maternal life-take, only further harrowed by the inexorable sweet-talks of its mass cult-suicide leader. Peddling a warped vision of religion that tried (& succeeded) to convince people to take their own lives as a sign of love to God is a bone-chillingly sadistic concept for a horror movie that plays on the horror of our own mind and pain we experience that hits especially hard in the mental health crisis of 2020 – so deep, many would rather take a way out than face it. The cinematography is very peculiar in bizarre style-shots of everything from aspirin tablet dissolution to frosted windshield face-obscurance to nightmarish dream sequences and a palette of charcoal and deep-cerulean ice colors, and setting is fantastic – feeling straight out of The Shining, like Nicholson is going to turn the corner with-axe any scene. The score mimics its wintery visuals and setting with ice-cold supernatural atmosphere in somber minor keys and pads to create an unsettling vision. Riley Kenough’s performance does deserve praise for how convincingly she is able to go from seemably-normal Dakota Fanning-reminiscent girl-next-door to a psychopathic, catatonic sin-obsession burning her own knees on coals out of repentance. Alicia Silverstone isn’t bad either.. in her few early lines.

The Problem: Everything Else

One Of The Worst And Most Pointless, Bewildering, Quixiotic, Imbecilically-Scripted Plots In Modern Horror History

Photo Courtesy Of: Neon x Film Nation

The problem is.. everything else. The script might be one of the worst and most pointless I’ve ever witnessed in my entire cinematic lifetime. Let’s start with its central theme: suicide. The film starts by making a solid point about the unmatched severity of the concept: making us truly feel the pain, shock, and horror of the situation, as well as how ice-cold and heartless Armitage’s Richard is about his divorce and infidelity, a personification of the many people who hurt others and feel no remorse (coincidentally, most of them actually claim to be religious in real life I’ve seen, but never practice what they preach). From there, the film makes no argument or point about it.. so what even is the point of leading with such an important, controversial, and grave topic if you aren’t going to even do anything with it. There is no analysis of what it means, why mankind does it (and is one of the few lifeforms to do it so often, evolutionarily-fascinating when the biological point of life is to survive), or context of what it means in Biblical proportions besides some archaic scripture quotes that are wildly-insensitive to people in the darkest experiences in life. The characters are weakly-scripted and equally weakly-acted, save Kenough – especially the children who, despite even being well-known with profile like Jaeden Martell’s central performance in IT (2017), barely register a pulse after their mother took her own life: one of the most traumatized and harrowing experiences a child can possibly go through.

Who Wrote This?

A Collection Of Lifeless Characters With No Ostensible Motivation Or Plan & Revenge Arc That Accomplishes Nothing

Photo Courtesy Of: Neon x Film Nation

Their motivations and plan (despite exploiting a mega-cliché in dollhouses that was already beat to death by fellow-A24 and far-superior Ari Aster-film Hereditary.. like a year and a half ago) make absolutely no sense. A Better Watch Out-level child-plot to get revenge and make the woman responsible for stealing their dad and retroactively-complicit in killing their mom sorry would have been clever, albeit predictable in that no kid would possibly agree to go on this trip in the first place – a doomed script from conception-onward. Their ‘brilliant’ plan they so meticulously ‘thought out’ with elaborative dollhouse designs for months involved *checks notes*.. taking the food from the shelves,.. letting their phones run out of power,.. (somehow) faking hanging yourself and summoning a plot-convenient blizzard outside,.. forcing Grace’s innocent dog outside (animal cruelty.. nice one, a******s),.. hiding in the attic – while apparently not locking the door or taking away a gun from a crazy woman whose brain has been blended into fruitcake.., and worst of all: a whole lot of nothing. What was their big master plan and the entire plot of the film: to get Grace to break and admit her complicity in killing their Mom? That might be the lowest-stakes *ever* recorded for a horror movie, and one they couldn’t even manage to accomplish that one thing! Know this: there is a HUGE difference between atmosphere/slow-burning.. and being a noneventful, boring slugfest with no plot or reason to exist.

A Laundry List Of Plot-Holes

Jason X And Halloween VII Were More Slasher-Believable Than This.. While Never Pretending To Be Fake-Deep, Pseudo-Intellectual Cinema Insults

Photo Courtesy Of: Neon x Film Nation

The Lodge is perhaps the shining example of that difference, making me almost lose my mind worse than Grace being blue-balled into thinking something was going to happen every 15-20 minutes of nothing I could not help thinking there had to be something somewhat registering as horror or pulse-jumpstarting to happen soon after.. right? Wrong. Even with ALL these plot holes looking like damn Swiss cheese or a freckle-face (and not Kenough’s weirdly-noseless one in the finale) and numbing-waiting for SOMETHING to happen by the grace of the God it’s so weirdly-ambivalent about, the family STILL has the easiest way out possible in the ludicrous finale that obliterates any remote salvageability of this film. Grace walks down the stairs at the speed of molasses wielding a pistol no one ever thought to.. I don’t know.. just take out of the skinny, catatonic, 100lb-tops, batsh*t-crazy woman’s hands – with two decently-sized kids walking behind her not only outnumbering her, but able to take her easily by surprise AND a man twice her size who can’t just tackle her when she’s waving a gun passively at his kids. There are literally THREE people around her on the staircase scene who could have just swarmed her and taken the weapon and ended it all.. but hey, what’s a little logic and remote semblance of believability in cinema/modern-horror nowadays? Jason X and Halloween VII had more slasher-believability than this.. while never pretending to be fake-deep, pseudo-intellectual pander-prestige-horror or anything more than exploitative sequel blockbusters – and thus less absolutely maddening and objectively-insulting to the genre.

Conclusion

An Ice-Cold Atmosphere & Ocular Aesthetic Wasted

One Of The Most Quixiotic, Pointless, Clichéd, & Imbecilically-Scripted Plots Ever In Horror. The Worst Film Of 2020.

Photo Courtesy Of: Neon x Film Nation

Overall, The Lodge is one of the worst films I’ve seen in a long time – in the jacket of what could’ve been one of the best ones. A midnight-dark, ice-cold atmosphere of disquietude, astriction, & sucidal depths of psyche with a fine winter aesthetic, cinematography palette, high-budget A24 resources, and irksome supernatural score, the technicians and artist who set the stage for the film should be rightfully-outraged. One of the most quixiotic, pointless, clichéd, & imbecilically-scripted plots of 21st century horror, directors Franz and Fiala have managed to peddle weighty questions while wasting two hours getting no semblance of close to taking any sort of position or analysis on them – and writing in circles a movie with no ostensible point, excitement, scare-factor, or reason to exist. The Lodge wants so much to be The Shining, and it’s so.. not. Even with a COVID-19 pandemic shutting down all new releases in theaters – a situation that makes people like us here at CLC anxious with withdrawal-symptoms craving new cinema to analyze and enjoy, I cannot express in words how much I hate this film. A frontrunner for worst film of 2020.

Official CLC Score: 2.3/10