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Marina Antunes [Film Festival 10.10.19] "drama" "horror"

The writing/directing duo of Veronica Franz and Severin Fiala took the horror world by storm with 2014’s Goodnight Mommy and now the pair have returned with their English language debut The Lodge.

Riley Keough stars as Grace, a young woman trying to win the affection of her new fiance Richard’s (Richard Armitage) children. Grace joins the family on their yearly winter escape to the cabin but things are tense even before they arrive at their destination and when Richard announces he has to return to the city for work for a few days, Grace is left alone in the house with the kids who take it upon themselves to make her life a living hell.

At first, the kids’ tricks are largely harmless but the pair is smart and determined, having dug up some fairly disturbing details about Grace’s past and very quickly, the tone of the harassment changes from playful to downright creepy until it’s not really clear if what Grace is going through is at the hands of the children, if the house is haunted, or if she’s genuinely losing her mind.

Franz and Fiala are masters of horror; they turn mundane scenes into moments crippled with dread, they have seemingly complete control over pacing to push moments to the absolute brink of tension, and they play with expectations in unlikely ways.

Despite their excellent technical the storytelling prowess, The Lodge excels because of Keough’s performance. The actress has made a name for herself in a few short of years with standout performances in a varied assortment of films and TV projects but she is astounding here as a woman on the brink of mental collapse. She’s magnetic and Franz and Fiala give her ample room to display the full range of her talent.

While I expect The Lodge will play just as well in the comfort of one’s home, there’s nothing better than sharing a great piece of horror entertainment with a group and such is the case here. The Lodge should really be experienced in a theatrical setting where you can share in the horror with a bunch of other people who are also losing their shit.

The Lodge plays again at VIFF on October 11. For more details and ticket information visit the festival website.

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