THE LODGE (2008)
Young couple, Michael (Owen Szabo) and Julia (Elizabeth Kell), head to the secluded 10 bedroom Two Rivers Ranch lodge in the stunning countryside for a romantic weekend. Shortly after arriving at the lodge, they find the owner skulking around, who appears to have forgotten their booking of the entire lodge. After apologising, the owner, Henry (Kevin McClatchy), helps the couple feel at home but continues to lurk around the lodge, much to the dismay of Julia. It isn’t long before weird noises can be heard within the lodge, a bedroom door is frequently locked and unlocked and the terrifying appearance of a child’s face at the window disturb the couple. Their idyllic getaway quickly becomes a living nightmare as they must survive their stay at the lodge.
The front cover of THE LODGE DVD has a quote “The Shining meets Cabin In The Woods” but I found this film nothing much like either of those films. The only similarity The Lodge shares with the aforementioned movies is the isolated location in which the action takes place and the fact that grisly goings-on occur within the walls.
The story of The Lodge is set up nicely and the suspicious character of Henry is made apparent early on, but is subtle on how it plays out. The young couple, however, sometimes struggle to receive sympathy from the viewer, in particular Michael, when we don’t get to see the initimate scenes play out between himself and Julia. For instance, there’s a scene in which Julia is in the hot tub, but pretty much as soon as Michael enters with a bottle of wine, the scene ends. It would have been nice to develop a sense of chemistry between them both which was deeper than just physical attraction. This aspect is not helped with Michael constantly referring to having crazy, dirty sex with Julia. Michael is the epitome of being young, dumb and full of cum, with sex clearly at the forefront of the relationship, in his mind, anyway. It comes as a surprise to learn that he intends to propose to Julia during the weekend getaway, especially so when he remarks that Julia avoids commitment.
Whilst there are issues with the main characters, the story is pretty solid with a nice little twist for horror fans. The plot is helped by a fantastic turn by Kevin McClatchy and Elizabeth Kell, who play Henry and Julia respectively. Kevin’s suspicious housekeeper Henry looks a bit rough around the edges, and the way he presents himself to the couple upon their first encounter is not exactly the most encouraging of introductions. Elizabeth plays Julia as a strong, indepedent woman, and it is obvious she wears the trousers in the relationship between her and Michael. As the movie progresses, Elizabeth’s role becomes increasingly demanding and she rises to the challenge each time, providing gusto in her bid to survive.
What I absolutely fawn over about The Lodge is the location in which the film is set. The filmmakers could not have chosen a more breathtakingly beautiful spot, with a running stream amidst the flourishing flora in which the titular building sits. Having such an astounding, picturesque natural setting makes the madness that ensues even more frightening. I easily found myself drifting off into a daydream when the camera pans over the rushing water. Only when the strange caretaker Henry makes an appearance am I snapped back to reality that this is a horror movie and that behind the pleasant veneer is some disturbing events waiting to unfold indeed!
With a great score behind it, THE LODGE is a refreshing horror that still stays true to its genre roots. A few aspects could have been improved by adding extra layers of depth, but this is a great independent attempt with plenty on offer to film fans.