Richard Hall (Richard Armitage) is the father of Aidan (Jaeden Martell) and Mia (Lia McHugh) and the soon-to-be-ex-husband of Laura (Alicia Silverstone). The estranged couple share custody until Richard breaks the news that he has met someone new and wants a divorce so he can marry Grace (Riley Keough). Distraught, Laura kills herself. The kids, traumatized, blame Grace for their mother’s death. In an attempt to bring his kids and fiancée to something close to speaking terms, Richard plans a “family” trip to a remote cabin so they can all get to know one another.
Almost as soon as they arrive Richard is called back to the city for work, leaving Grace, Aiden and Mia alone. “Things are very uncomfortable between us,” Grace says to the kids, “but we’re stuck in a house together.” That growing sense of unease is exacerbated after Aiden and Mia google their soon-to-be-step-mom and discover she is the daughter of religious leader and the only survivor of his cult’s mass suicide.
They are stranded—the car won’t start and the weather has made travelling on foot impossible—as strange things happen in the cabin and Grace begins to spiral. “We need to sacrifice something for the Lord,” she says.
“The Lodge” builds slowly creating eerie unease while peppering in some shocking scenes. Directors Veronika Franz and Severin Fiala play up the small details to create an uncomfortable atmosphere. The vastness of the icy outdoors playing against the claustrophobia of the cabin provides the backdrop for story ripe with religious imagery and surreal touches.
As the aura of paranoia grows, so do the questions. Is Grace is being tormented by the kids, or is she a victim of a supernatural force—possibly her father—who wishes her harm. Keough is terrific as a woman tormented by the past, unpredictable in the present. It’s hard to know whether she is dangerous or in danger and that pouch and pull is the movie’s strong point.,
“The Lodge” is a bit too ponderous in its early moments but finds its groove in the haunting exploration of Grace’s trauma.