Jan 31, 2020
It’s Friday, so that means another Fantastic Fest feature from Andrew Campbell. The festival, in addition to screening the best and weirdest genre films every year, has also become a film market for those same features. And now thanks to whatever clerical error resulted in Andrew receiving press credentials last year, we’re reaping the rewards as the purchased films begin receiving limited and independent screenings, including today’s pickup from podcast favorite distributor, Neon. Check out Andrew’s recent reviews from Neon for PARASITE (Episode #628), BORDER (Episode #480), and BODIED (Episode #383).
Before the review, we’ll have a promo from the Ocho Duro Parlay Hour. Every episode, the ODPH Crew covers a wide variety of topics from sports and popular culture, with a little something for everyone. A huge shout out to Ken at ODPH for becoming a sponsor of One Movie Punch. We can’t thank you all enough for your constant support! Let us know what Sponsor Sunday movie review you want as soon as possible! You can find them on Twitter and Instagram @odparlayhour and on Facebook @ochoduroparlayhour. Get the avalanche of content you deserve!
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Here we go!
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Hello film fans!
Andrew here, back today with an absolute white-knuckler of a film. As always, I’ll keep my distance from spoiler territory, but after today’s review you will either be psyched for its upcoming release or will know that this is one for you to avoid.
Over the last few years, many of my favorite horror films have come from two auteurs writing and producing their first two original films: Jordan Peele and Ari Aster. Peele’s GET OUT and US brought the so-called elevated horror with their social themes complimenting his expert direction and memorable performances. Though Peele had shot to fame thanks to the deserved success of KEY & PEELE on Comedy Central, Ari Aster came out of nowhere to deliver HEREDITARY and MIDSOMMAR just 13 months apart, with the latter commencing principal photography while HEREDITARY was still raking in the millions theatrically based on exceptional word-of-mouth. The co-writer/directors of today’s film aren’t household names yet, but with THE LODGE serving as their follow up to the disturbing, criminally underseen 2014 German-language horror film GOODNIGHT MOMMY, they should be on your radar.
Today’s movie is THE LODGE (2019), written by Sergio Casci, Severin Fiala, and Veronika Franz, and co-directed by Fiala and Franz. THE LODGE is distributed by Alamo Drafthouse’s distribution company NEON, making its Texas premiere at the 2019 Fantastic Fest after being bumped from its original Fall 2019 release date to February 2020. THE LODGE stars indie-darling (and Elvis Presley granddaughter) Riley Keough as Grace, a young woman with a dark childhood who finds herself engaged to a recently-divorced older man, Richard (Richard Armitage). Richard, Grace, and his two teenage children head to a remote and snowbound mountain lodge with the goal of breaking down the children’s icy barriers when it comes to this new mother figure. When business calls Richard back to the city, Grace steps up to watch the children alone for a few days as the tension begins to boil over.
The trailer for THE LODGE is excellent. Yes, it does give away some key imagery from the film, but it’s out of context and doesn’t detract much from the story. It’s haunting, it looks and sounds gorgeous, and really refrains from giving away much of the plot. However, with the whole ‘trapped in a sinister house’ motif, I’m afraid it may come off like a film full of played-out jump scares. That’s not at all what you’re getting here. I tried sitting through the new THE GRUDGE remake recently and walked out after the first few dozen times I heard...
...and a nightmarish image popped into the frame. Yes, THE LODGE has a few of those pulse-accelerating scares, but it has far more in common with the existential familial dread of HEREDITARY, even down to the usage of a dollhouse in the story. THE LODGE is not about the big scares, rather it starts out by knocking the audience for a loop in the first ten minutes and then sustaining that dread for nearly two uncomfortable hours.
If you’re a horror fan, you may recall how it felt walking out of HEREDITARY or MIDSOMMAR in a daze, relieved that the film is finally over, but certain you just saw something pretty special. THE LODGE is not great date night horror fare, unless you’re ready to take a bit of a mental pounding. What it also provides is some lush visuals that put all of the over-processed studio horror-films to shame. Fiala and Franz have an eye for framing scenes, transforming even the most benign interactions between Grace and the children into something unsettling. Though much of the film keeps us trapped inside the lodge, there are several well-shot scenes in the snowy surroundings and the shots of the lodge from on high recall the same foreboding feelings you get instantaneously from seeing Kubrick’s Overlook Hotel in THE SHINING.
What makes THE LODGE fantastic? This is a horror film marketed to mainstream audiences that refuses to pander to them. After Ari Aster’s two amazing films, I’ve been searching for that next fix and THE LODGE is as close as I’ve come to reaching those artistic horror highs. Fortunately, Fantastic Fest delivered two dynamite films on the same wavelength this year, so check this one out and watch out for my review of A24’s SAINT MAUD in mid-March if you love to feel bad at the movies.
THE LODGE is a rewarding endurance test that all self-professed horror aficionados should see on the big screen (and you’ll never want to watch it again). Fans of unrelenting dread and films where it does always turn out okay in the end, such as HEREDITARY, MIDSOMMAR or, I’ll say it, CATS, will enjoy this film.
Rotten Tomatoes: 80%
One Movie Punch: 8.2/10
THE LODGE is rated R and opens nationwide next Friday, February 7.
JOSEPH: “Dude, this movie hasn’t even come out. Why are you talking about a movie our listeners can’t even watch yet?”
Joseph, I’m glad you asked. Come back next week for the conclusion of my two-part review arc entitled “Films Premiering on February 7 That Feature Horrible Things Happening at a Remote Cabin”...
JOSEPH: “That old chestnut, eh? I like it!”
...where I’ll be discussing COME TO DADDY, starring Elijah Wood as a troubled man trying to reconnect with his estranged father. It’s not quite as dark as THE LODGE, but it comes close.
I’ll see you then.