‘Tis may be the season for romantic comedies set in idyllic English cottages or whimsical tales of elves lost in New York, but if you’re in the mood for something a little more gory, we’ve got your back.
We guide you through 14 days of Christmas Horror. It’s getting increasingly cold outside so let’s look at the equally chilly thriller, The Lodge.
We have so far included almost exclusively very funny or at least very entertaining films in this series. Even Black Christmas had some humour to it and it made a spectacle out of its otherwise timely topic of male violence against women.
The Lodge represents a very dark turn in our 14 days of Christmas horror. It’s a deeply bleak and relentlessly miserable exercise in religious horror and has a lot of similarities with Rose Glass’ superb Saint Maud.
The story is deceivingly simple. Grace (Riley Keough) travels to a remote lodge with her new beau Richard (Richard Armitage) and his two kids, Aiden and Mia (Jaeden Martell and Lia McHugh). Richard’s ex-wive and Aiden and Mia’s mother recently committed suicide after learning Richard’s plans to marry Grace, creating tension between Grace and the children.
If that wasn’t horrifying enough, Grace is left alone with the kids after Richard leaves for work. They wake up one morning to find all their possessions missing and the power out. Without her medication, Grace begins to succumb to her anxieties.
You may ask how religion fits into all of this. Grace is the lone survivor of a religious cult that committed mass suicide and she is tormented by her father’s sermons. “Repent and you will find salvation” the voice of her late father rings in the house. Or is it just in Grace’s head?
What’s real and what’s not isn’t always clear in The Lodge as Grace’s reality begins to morph into a full-blown nightmare. Her past trauma seeps into her present and it doesn’t help that Aiden is convinced they’re stuck in purgatory, having died of carbon monoxide poisoning from a gas heater.
If there is an afterlife, one would hope it’s not like the one Grace and the kids are stuck in. Christmas of course has deep connections to Christianity, which makes The Lodge only more powerful and terrifying. Directors Veronika Franz and Severin Fiala create an almost oppressive atmosphere in their film, much like in their previous horror offering, Goodnight Mommy.
Without spoiling anything, The Lodge does have a few twists up its sleeve. The ending of the film is one that will shake you to your core. Horror usually runs on the sheer spectacle of the violence, but there is no spectacle to be found in The Lodge. It’s disturbing and bleak and thoroughly unpleasant, in all the best ways, which is why it’s perfect for one of our 14 Christmas Horror films.