12th Jan2013

‘The Lodge’ Review

by Phil Wheat

Stars: Deanna Cramer, Liz Jones, Elizabeth Kell, Mandi Kreisher, Kevin McClatchy, Owen Szabo | Written by Deb Havener | Directed by Brad Helmink, John Rauschelbach

Originally lensed in 2008 and only now getting a DVD release in the UK, The Lodge sees a couple’s quiet weekend break turn into a nightmarish fight for survival – think a low-budget The Shining meets The People Under the Stairs by way of Hostel and you’ll be somewhere close. The film follows Michael (Szabo) and Julia (Kell), who are staying at a secluded lodge on a weekend away. The pair discover that they are not alone when they encounter caretaker Henry (McClatchy). When he acts suspiciously, the couple investigate but the closer they come to revealing Henry’s secret, the more unlikely they are to make it out alive…

I’ve seen plenty of low-budget, and no-budget, horror movies over the years, some of which turn out to be hidden gems and some (OK, maybe a lot) of which turn out to be complete dross. Thankfully The Lodge leans more towards the former thanks to an atmospheric soundtrack and a great central performance by Elizabeth Kell as Julia. However besides that, you can tell straight out of the gate that The Lodge is going to be different. Get past the cliched prologue in which two unnamed women are killed and the film opens with a picturesque pan across the stunning, painting-like, scenery in which the titular lodge sits and that look continues throughout the film – which in a change of pace to many horror flicks, is actually shot for the most part in the yellow glow of sunshine (it isn’t until the latter third of the film where The Lodge strays back into the cliched “horror film” look).

The four-year timespan between the production and the release of The Lodge here in the UK has seen many changes in the horror genre – none moreso than a move away from the so-called “torture-porn” (I prefer the term survival horror) of the Hostel and Saw franchises, of which The Lodge shares a lot in common (even the films title of “The Lodge” could be a reflection on the films genre relationship to “Hostel”). So watching the film now almost feels like watching a time capsule of the genre circa 2005-2008.

But it’s not only the likes of Hostel which seem to have influenced The Lodge. There are hints of the atmosphere of isolation seen in Kubrick’s The Shining, the protagonists daughter looks like she’s stepped out of Wes Craven’s The People Under the Stairs. And there’s even a nod to one of the most iconic scenes from Tobe Hooper’s The Texas Chainsaw Massacre too! In fact the more you look at the film the more you realise how derivative of other, better, horror films it actually is. Yet The Lodge is still a great movie in it’s own right. It successfully manages to get past the cliches and the stereotypes in which it resides thanks to a combination of above average photography and direction and the aforementioned atmospheric soundtrack.

The Lodge makes its debut on DVD in the UK courtesy of 101 Films.


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