The Lodge is a 2019 psychological horror film directed by Veronika Franz and Severin Fiala, written by Franz, Fiala, and Sergio Casci, and starring Riley Keough, Jaeden Martell, Lia McHugh, Alicia Silverstone, and Richard Armitage. Its plot follows a soon-to-be stepmother who, alone with her fiancé’s two children, becomes stranded at their rural lodge during Christmas. There, she and the children experience a number of unexplained events that seem to be connected to her past in a suicide cult.
Laura Hall, separated from her husband, Richard, dies by suicide after he informs her he plans to marry Grace Marshall, a woman he met while researching a book about an extremist Christian cult. Raised in the cult, Grace was the sole survivor of their mass suicide, led by her father. Laura’s death devastates her and Richard’s children, teenage Aidan and young Mia. Six months later, Richard announces that they will spend Christmas with Grace at the family’s remote Massachusetts lodge to get to know each other. Aidan and Mia uncover Grace’s past, including video footage of the cult, showing the deceased followers draped in purple silk with duct tape across their mouths reading “sin.” At the lodge, the children act hostile toward Grace and refuse efforts to bond with her, even after Richard departs back to the city for a work obligation. Grace’s unease is compounded by the abundance of Catholic iconography in the cabin, which causes her to have nightmares about her father. After being rebuked for watching her shower, Aidan prepares Grace a cup of cocoa.
In the morning, Grace awakens to discover that her belongings – including her clothing, psychiatric medication, and pet dog – are missing, as well as all the food and Christmas decorations. The generator has gone out, leaving all of their cell phones dead. Grace suspects the children have pranked her but finds their belongings missing as well. She notices the clocks have advanced to January 9. Aidan tells Grace he dreamed the gas heater malfunctioned and they all suffocated, and expresses fear that they may be in the afterlife. Over the next several days, Grace – succumbing to anxiety, medication withdrawal, hunger, and cold – begins sleepwalking, and is tormented by disturbing visions and dreams, including the recurrent voice of her father sermonizing. She attempts to walk to the nearest town, discovering a cross-shaped cabin where she sees her father beckoning to her. She eventually travels in a circle, taking her back to the lodge.
Buried in the snow, she discovers a photo of Aidan and Mia in a memorial frame, and inside, finds the children praying over a newspaper article detailing the deaths of all three from carbon monoxide poisoning on December 22. Aidan insists they are in purgatory, and hangs himself in the attic as proof that they are dead, only to inexplicably survive. Grace suffers a nervous breakdown, which intensifies when she finds her dog frozen to death outside. She enters a catatonic state on the porch. Worried she might die of exposure, the children finally admit that they have been gaslighting her the entire time, having drugged her, hidden their possessions in a crawlspace, faked the hanging, and played recordings of her father’s sermons via a wireless speaker. With their own phones dead at last, the children unsuccessfully attempt to start the generator and bring Grace her medication, but find her convinced that they are in purgatory and must do penance to ascend to heaven.
That night, the children witness Grace self-flagellating by burning herself on the hearth. They hide in the attic but Grace confronts them in the morning, insisting they must “sacrifice something for the Lord.” Richard returns to discover an inconsolable Grace brandishing his pistol. In an attempt to prove her belief that they are in purgatory, she fires the gun at him, killing him. Aidan and Mia attempt to flee in the car, but get stuck in the snow. Grace forces the children back into the lodge, where she seats them at the dinner table with their father’s corpse and sings “Nearer, My God, to Thee.” She affixes duct tape reading “sin” to each of their mouths before contemplating the gun.
It is a very slow burner and there are hardly any scares. The final scenes really intensifies the movie and I was surprised by the ending. Despite that I think I will probably never watch this film again. I will give it a 6.5 outta 10!