The Lodge

The lodgeAs you may remember, I was very disappointed that scheduled events on the home front prevented me from flying to Toronto to see My Zoe, but I did get to see The Lodge on Friday, at the Vancouver International Film Festival (VIFF). (Thanks, Serv, for letting me know it would be playing here!)

The film was scheduled to end at midnight in a not-so-great part of town, but I had hoped to take my horror friend/protector (a.k.a. my younger son), until I realized that he wouldn’t be allowed into the 19+ venue. As the night of the show approached, I started getting a little nervous about being down there so late on my own and so I convinced my friend from work to come along. We made a full evening of it, complete with a Szechuan dinner at a favourite restaurant near there. Yum! (Pictures of our actual menu selections from the ChongQing website.)

 

I had heard that the movie was a horror, but I definitely would put it more in the psychological thriller category. Creepy and tense, with a few jump startles and some good atmosphere, but not actually scary from my point of view. I do like dark atmospheric movies, and in my opinion the lighting, pacing, and music combine well to create that overall feeling. There is a weird device, though, of setting up various tableaux using dolls in the daughter’s doll house back at her home, foreshadowing the film’s events. I really didn’t get it. Just a device, I guess.

The best way to experience the movie would be to see it completely spoiler-free, enjoying the gradual build-up of suspense and tension, the startling bits, and the chance to guess at what is really happening. However, while the trailer (below) doesn’t tell us too much, there has been lots of talk on-line, and even the description on the VIFF website completely gives it away! (For the earliest startling bit, though, I was kind of glad to have an idea of what was coming, as it gave me the opportunity to close my eyes. My friend didn’t have that chance and it was shocking for her.)

The lodge itselfSo, basically, without spoilers, the movie is about a dad (Richard Armitage) who decides that it would be an awesome idea to drive several hours to a remote lodge, the lodge the kids used to stay at with mom and dad when they were still together, on a bonding trip for his two children (Jaeden Lieberher/Martel; Lia McHugh) and his new fiancée (Riley Keough). He will then leave them there in the middle of the snow and ice with no car while he goes back to the city to work. The dad knows that his fiancée has a traumatic past of being the only survivor of a cult suicide, because he wrote a book that included her story. The kids hate the idea of this trip; they hate their future stepmother; and they have absolutely no plans to accept her into their lives. And yet, off they go. And off he goes. So. Right off the bat, an unbelievable premise.

… Unless you suspend all disbelief and/or believe that the dad is totally clueless and insensitive. If you can get past all of this, the story unfolds very well.

richard in the lodgeRichard as the dad, whose character’s name is also Richard, doesn’t do a whole lot for me, and he was the real reason I went to the movie. Yes, he looks attractive during his time on screen (although it is very hard to tell given how dark the film is), before returning to the city and again when he arrives back at the lodge near the end, but he isn’t playing a character I can like (or one with much depth to showcase his acting abilities). And he is even a bit creepy in the way he looks at the fiancée and caresses her knee (see the trailer below). There is one scene, though, with them giggling together in bed that is kind of cute. But otherwise, not much chemistry there. Also, unlike some of my fandom friends, the sight of Richard as a dad doesn’t really do it for me. I already have a man at home who is a dad. Richard is my leading-man fantasy lover. So. On to the rest of the movie.

Riley Keough does a great job as someone who is falling apart and succumbing to fear in the midst of the inexplicable things happening around her. Her screams and panic, while little-girlish, are really believable and highlight her youth as compared to the Richard character, as well as her closeness in age to the children. (To me, though, a better cult-aftermath psychological thriller is Martha Marcy May Marlene starring the excellent Elizabeth Olsen.) Lia McHugh is an extremely good crier, and she elicits sympathy early in the movie. Jaeden Lieberher/Martel (he alternates surnames) seems quite wooden to me, maybe because of the directing, because I thought he was really good in the movie It.

The ending of the movie came as a surprise to me and was thoroughly satisfying.

I’ve been trying to decide if on balance I like the movie… I think as a Richard Armitage movie, no, but as a psychological thriller and vehicle for Riley Keough, yes. However, it would be a better movie if their being at the lodge in the first place wasn’t so implausible and if the filmmakers had ditched that weird dollhouse device. My friend and I agreed that it was a movie we would see, but only once. I wish I had liked it more from a Richard point of view, but I would really like to see him in a meaty, leading man role, and particularly one where he uses his natural accent.

Waiting patiently for The Stranger.

47 thoughts on “The Lodge

  1. Sue the Szechuan dinner looks very yummy so glad your night got off to a great start.
    I would only see this movie w a friend. No way would I go alone esp if it were playing in a not so great part of town. I’m glad you like the artistic part of the movie although you went for
    Richard. I am hoping My Zoe comes round m parts whenever. And of course The Stranger o Netflix. At least we know he is in all of that miniseries. Thank you for the great review!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Had it been in a regular Cineplex type of theatre, I would have been okay by myself. Yes, there were aspects of the movie I enjoyed. I’m looking forward to The Stranger and hopefully My Zoe gets wider release.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Sue, oh you are much braver than I am. I really don’t like horror or psychological thriller movies so I would only see The Lodge with a friend for moral support and for Richard although he looks a bit creepy in this movie (sorry)
        Yes I cannot wait for The Stranger on Netflix and keeping fingers crossed My Zoe hits any theatre in the DC area whenever…

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Great review, Sue. Thank you for describing your reactions to the film in so much detail. From what I had heard already, it also sounded to me as if the film really suffered from a premise that was difficult to believe. Good to hear that Riley Keough rose to the occasion. Sad that Richard was – once again – underused. Since the only reason why I would have wanted to see this film, was Richard, I am glad to know that I am not missing a major part of his oeuvre.

    Liked by 1 person

      • Yes! He can do a lot with very little time if given the chance.

        It also helped that I was interested in O8 beyond his involvement. I liked the actresses involved and the premise of the movie itself.

        Horror is not my thing at all, so I was determined not to see this anyway, and while I’m a bit sad that this seems to be another instance of an also-ran kinda role for him, personally I am glad not to be missing anything major by skipping it.

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  3. I think Sue , we have very similar feelings even though I’ve not seen the film and I thoroughly concur on the Daddy Armitage thing.

    I think your wish for “a meaty, leading man role, and particularly one where he uses his natural accent.” will be coming true very soon with The Stranger!

    Liked by 3 people

  4. Merci d’avoir évité les “spoilers”. Encore un film alimentaire, sans intérêt qui ne sortira pas en France et que je doute vouloir regarder en “binge watching”.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Happy you were able to go to this one, at least!

    I think plot-wise they need the dollhouse device to give Richard a reason to return to The Lodge apparently in a rush or earlier than he’d planned. But in general I agree with you — if it’s supposed to tell us something plotwise (or constitute a flashback) we need more time to process what we see in those glimpses.

    When I saw it in Chicago, the person who introduce it for the film festival said that “it sticks the ending” and that was my impression as well, although apparently there are others who disagree.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I definitely enjoyed going. I wish Richard had had a bigger, better role in it.

      Oh I didn’t realize that’s why he went back. I just thought his work was done and he was heading there, after giving us a view of his face through the doll house! But maybe that did make him rush — my friend says she thought so, so maybe I just wasn’t getting it.

      I really thought the ending was good. And, in fact, if I think of anything, that final tableau will stick in my mind. Well done, from my point of view.

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      • ***SPOILERS*** My reading of the dollhouse vignettes was that they were somehow flashbacks — we were seeing the kids play out their plans. At some point then we get to the end of the pre-planning — where they left the dollhouse when they went on vacation — which is what Richard discovers. Fwiw.

        I’m too lazy to to find the right post, but anyway I got the EJ autobiography from the library yesterday and it’s brilliant. Inimitably Elton John and snarkily funny.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Ah! Never thought of that! That makes sense! (Sorry… just put a spoiler alert in front of your comment.)

          I’ve been reading a few excerpts of the EJ book somewhere (The Guardian?). Looks pretty candid and interesting. Glad to hear it’s good! I’m wondering whether to wait to hear him read it as an audiobook.

          Liked by 1 person

          • Sorry about that — was trying to be very vague.

            I’m in the queue for the audiobook, too, which is theoretically available now, but I got to the hardcover first.

            Liked by 1 person

              • that’s annoying. The release date for the physical CDs (my medium of choice) was 10/15. Our library has it in hand but not catalogued yet. I’m #7. I’m driving a different “new” (actually used, old) car, but it’s actually older than my previous one and in addition to the CD slot, it also has a cassette tape option!

                Liked by 1 person

                • Checking further, I see that it is only that my Audible UK membership can’t distribute it to me because it doesn’t have the rights to sell it in Canada. Hmm. I could buy it from Audible Canada for $35+tax. (I don’t think they’ll let me sign up again and get a free one, since I already did that once.) But right now I have 4 credits on the UK site! I may wait a while. Apparently, most of the narration is Taron Egerton.

                  I wonder if there are cassette tapes around still? Probably not for sale for books, I guess. I really like that I can download a book to my phone and plug it in through the aux cable. And that is actually old technology, as the newer cars all use blue tooth now!

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                  • Egerton: That’s a bit of a disappointment. I just finished reading the book today and it’s a pleasure all the way through. I’m sixth in the queue for the audio CDs now. I doubt they still sell audiocassettes, but who knows, maybe I’ll find some of my old ones lying around somewhere. I plan to drive this car at least until May (barring other problems), so I won’t be upgrading systems any time soon. I never got around to setting up my phone to synch with the truck and listen to stuff that way. I guess it’s just not really my medium of choice unless I desperately want to listen to something.

                    Liked by 1 person

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