Review: 'The Lodge' a dark, unsettling exercise in horror
Family trip goes from bad to worse in latest from Severin Fiala and Veronika Franz
In "The Lodge," a looming air of atmospheric dread trumps logic and reason. Give yourself over to it and prepare to be rattled.
Austrian writer-directors Severin Fiala and Veronika Franz, who also made 2014's deeply creepy "Goodnight Mommy," serve up a disturbing story where shock factor plays an outsized role. An early incident hits like a cinder block to the stomach and leaves viewers staggering, setting the stage for unpleasantries to come.
Riley Keough (TV's "The Girlfriend Experience") stars as Grace, the girlfriend of Richard (Richard Armitage), who is taking his children on a Christmas vacation to a remote cabin following a family tragedy.
When Richard has to return to the city, Grace is left alone with the two kids, teenage Aidan (Jaeden Martell, "It") and pre-teen Mia (Lia McHugh).
It's not exactly smooth sailing from the start, as the kids learn of Grace's troubled background: she was the only survivor of a David Koresh-like mass suicide, organized by her father, that left 39 dead.
Grace's attempts to warm up to the kids fails and cabin fever, or something approaching it, sets in. When all of their possessions disappear and the power is cut to the house, questions of whether they've entered purgatory arise.
Fiala and Franz have all sorts of wickedness on their minds, and "The Lodge" is first and foremost a mood piece. Religion, sin and repentance are major themes, and the film grows more disquieting as the situation inside the cabin becomes increasingly dire.
If "The Lodge" doesn't answer all the questions it poses, that's okay. Its strength lies in its ability to stir a reaction, and that feeling lasts longer than its explanations. It's a trip you won't forget.
Rated R: for disturbing violence, some bloody images, language and brief nudity
Running time: 108 minutes