Religious commentary with a heavy horror vibe is “The Lodge” experience...
The Lodge is a 2019 psychological horror with an interesting take on the long term negative effects of exposure to both religion and horrid children. The main character Grace (played by Riley Keough) is the sole survivor of a mass suicide cult orchestrated by her father. His bastardized views on a Christian-based theology raised her in an environment that viewed self-inflicted death as a means toward salvation. He successfully convinced his entire congregation to drink poison to gain admittance into Heaven. Grace was only spared because she was too frightened of death for her religious upbringing to overpower her natural instincts to survive. She survived her childhood due to her lack of faith.
Fast forward to present day Grace in The Lodge , who is engaged to a widower with two children from a previous marriage that ended unexpectedly. Grace has been invited to spend the Christmas holiday with them at their secluded lodge, as a way for her to bond with her soon-to-be new step children, who are less than thrilled, to put it politely. The children realize religious symbols trigger massive panic attacks in Grace, due to the traumas she has endured and do not hesitate to use this against her. It does not help her mindset that the lodge is heavily decorated in religious themes. Her panic attacks border on psychosis at times, as she both hears her father’s voice condemning her and has intense flashbacks from her days in the cult. She relies on medication and an emotional support dog to keep herself grounded in reality.
Early in The Lodge, her fiancée unexpectedly excuses himself for a few days to attend to matters at work, and leaves her alone to care for his children. Literally isolated from everyone and anything, they have only each other’s company, and only Grace makes any effort to bond. And then one morning after a particularly frigid night, they awake to find the lodge is empty of everything minus themselves, the clothes they have on, and enough unanswered questions to fill a Bible. All her comfort and joys vanished in the few hours she laid to rest.
Grace’s main concern is the safety and well-being of the children. Even while accusing them of mischief, withdrawing from her medications, and searching for both her dog and outside help, she makes sure they are cared for to the best of her abilities. As the days go by in the lodge with no sign of life from the outside world or the heavens, Grace begins to experience the grieving process, first with denial, then anger, bargaining, and depression to name a few. Each step is infused with religious symbolism and imagery to heighten the significance of her upbringing, and how it still holds a controlling grasp on her view of reality.
The religious imagery and symbolism appear to be featured in every shot of The Lodge, along with a steady tone of isolation. Hope and despair, salvation and damnation are almost interchangeable in how they are presented as flowing into a smooth transition from one end of the spectrum to the other. Reality becomes distorted quickly and intensifies with each moment Grace and the children are trapped in their strange situation.
There are a few jump scares that are effective not solely because of their suddenness but the horrific visuals that accompany them. One unexpected scene in particular is permanently seared into my mind’s eyes. The Lodge has little gore, mostly relying on psychological terror and religious philosophy to create suspense and dread, along with a near constant state of confusion. The movie is rather dark in both aesthetic and plot, but a must watch for those craving a unique story filled with dark plot twists.
The Lodge is available to stream on Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, Redbox, and is also available for purchase on DVD.
Take a peek at the trailer for “The Lodge!”