Can You Handle The Lodge?

Photo: Courtesy of NEON Rated.
Warning: The following film description includes language that may be triggering.
In The Lodge, the new horror film from Veronika Franz and Severin Fiala (Goodbye Mommy), a woman and her two soon-to-be stepchildren end up trapped in a remote Massachusetts cabin with no connection to the outside world. There's plenty that's creepy and that will leave you anxious over what the hell is going on, but there are also aspects that are disturbing beyond the spooky setup, haunting music, and jump scares. The Lodge is scary, yes, but a couple elements are so upsetting that some viewers will want to steer clear of the film altogether.
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Without giving any of the twists away — because there are some huge ones — the woman, Grace (Riley Keough), and the two kids, Aiden and Mia (Jaeden Martell and Lia McHugh) end up at the titular lodge during the lead-up to Christmas because their father, Richard (Richard Armitage), wants them all to bond. He's with them at first, but when he needs to head back to work in the city, he arms Grace with a gun and is off. Not only is this an uncomfortable situation considering that scenario alone, but the kids have recently lost their mother, Laura (Alicia Silverstone) to death by suicide, and Grace escaped from a mass cult suicide when she was 12 and is still suffering from the psychological affects. In fact, Grace's case is part of some sort of book that Richard wrote, as the kids, rightly, point out when they express concerns over staying with her.
As you can see, there are red flags all over the place. And while it seems at first that Grace is going to be the villain, the film soon begins taking turns that keep viewers guessing who — if anyone — is responsible for the creepy events that start to take place in the home and all of which are related to Grace's "radical Christian" cult upbringing.
There's a scary dollhouse in which the dolls are inexplicably positioned in disturbing ways. There's Grace's hallucinatory dreams and sleepwalking. There's a possibly haunted painting of the Virgin Mary. There's the fact that the kids are pretty dang suspicious themselves. A lot of aspects of The Lodge, like these ones, make the movie typically scary, especially as the story goes on and the tension and twists build. But on top of that, there are a couple other aspects that are potentially triggering for some viewers.
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First, Laura's death by suicide, in which she shoots herself, is shown as a graphic jump scare within the first 15 minutes of the film. There are also repeated references to suicide when it comes to Grace's past, and particularly in a couple of scenes at the end, one of which depicts a hanging as another jump scare.
Second, there is a very cute, small dog involved in this movie, and his presence alone is nerve-racking from the start. I won't give anything away, but if you don't like to bear witness to anything at all bad happening to a dog — regardless of how/when/where/why it happens — do not see this movie.
The unfortunate thing is that neither of these points add much to the film. Without them, the story could still function as it does. The most interesting part of The Lodge is figuring out what is going on with the three trapped characters and whether their experiences are really as they seem. Laura's death and the dog situation aren't directly related to that. (That said, with the final twist, the mystery ends up falling sort of flat, too.)
When it comes down to it, if you enjoy checking out horror movies and aren't too bothered by the more disturbing aspects noted, then seeing where the mystery of The Lodge goes will keep you intrigued. But if anything here sounds questionable, especially when it comes to your own wellbeing, steer clear. It's not worth pushing through.
If you are thinking about suicide, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or the Suicide Crisis Line at 1-800-784-2433.
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