Suffer the Little Children – The Lodge (BFI London Film Festival Review)

Rating:

Religion is often used as a tool in horror films. Not quite a cult-like experience but the fear is that someone believes in something so strongly they would do unforgivable things in the name of religion. Usually, its Christians who get the beating and its no different with The Lodge. But instead of targeting someone who is devout, its the character’s own fear and resentment of religion that plagues them. Aside from religion, its the children who we should really fear.

Brother and sister, Aidan and Mia are forced to spend the Christmas break with their father and new girlfriend, Grace, in their lodge in the countryside. With the memory of their mother still fresh in their minds, they are less than welcoming. When their father leaves the three of them alone, strange happenings take place, questioning who is losing their minds, Grace or the siblings.

With a similar set up to their previous film Goodnight Mommy, Veronika Frank and Severin Fiala have minimal characters and a single location to amp up the unsettling factor that runs through the film like a poison.

Riley Keough as Grace is the focus throughout. From her reactions to the religious painting and ornaments and brief conversion, we gather that Grace grew up in a strict religious house and may or may not be scarred by the experience. Her mysterious pills never given a reason as to why she takes them and the kids claim she wanders through the house at night. But both Grace and the kids are unreliable, for most of the film, its a guessing game as who is telling the truth or if what they’re all experiencing is real.

The Lodge begins well with little dialogue and only a few gestures and glances to give a clue as to what to expect next but loses its way soon after the three are left alone. The eerily located lodge and its desert of snow make up for the lack of interesting events, but a location can only compensate for familiar tropes of this type of film for so long.

You can never know someone completely so you don’t know they will react to what may seem like a harmless joke but in fact, it is the smallest thing that can break them or make them descend into madness. With potential at the start, its a shame the film doesn’t hold up what it promises.

Dir:  Veronika Franz, Severin Fiala

Prd: Simon Oakes, Aliza James, Aaron Ryder

Scr: Veronika Franz, Severin Fiala, Sergio Casci

Cast: Riley Keough, Jaeden Martell, Lia McHugh, Alicia Silverstone, Richard Armitage

DoP: Thimios Bakatakis

Music: Danny Bensi, Saunder Jurriaans

Year: 2019

Country: UK, US

Running time: 100 minutes

The Lodge is being screened at BFI London Film Festival 2nd-13th October

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