When I sat down to watch the 2019 horror movie The Lodge, starring Riley Keough, Jaeden Martell, Lia McHugh, Alicia Silverstone, and Richard Armitage, I had no idea I’d walked into a modern-day Grimm’s Fairy Tale, but this time with objectively worse children.
***Spoilers for The Lodge***
In this Veronika Franz and Severin Fiala film, we meet a young emotionally unwell woman named Grace (Riley Keough) and her terrible new stepchildren (Jaeden Martell and Lia McHugh), as their handsome but dense father (Richard Armitage) leaves them in a remote winter cabin for Christmas. Oh, this is the first Christmas they are spending together, only six months after their mother (Alicia Silverstone) took her own life.
Aidan and Mia, the two children, make it very clear that they are not interested in spending this time with Grace right now. It is too soon and their stupid, handsome father just can’t see beyond his own well-tailored sweaters to see that it’s not time yet. Even more so, the kids discover that Grace is the survivor of a religious death cult and decide that they will get their revenge by slowly and psychologically destroying Grace once their father leaves.
Just like in fairy tales, step-mothers get a bad rap and in The Lodge, it is easy to dislike Grace from the way it is framed. Richard and Grace clearly had an affair while he was still married to Alicia Silverstone and it does seem strange to me that Grace would want to spend this kind of intimate holiday time with these two children so soon after their mother died. I feel like the first Christmas is off-limits, especially considering everything. Aiden and Mia are also shown to be a set of siblings who really love and care for each other, which is honestly beautiful. Their loss feels real and when Aiden tells their father no to the trip, I am securely Team Aiden.
Until the twist happens.
Grace takes medication to deal with her PTSD and everything that comes from being raised in a suicide cult, but the kids decide to prank Grace by getting hiding of all of their stuff, including her pills, and turning off the generator so that they are trapped in this nearly snowed-in cabin. Oh, and Aiden and Mia print out a fake obituary to make Grace think they died. Aiden even fake-hangs himself in order to convince Grace that they died and are now in purgatory and they need to confess so they can move on.
Once this is revealed, I went from Team Kids to Team Grace. Yes, your dad was stupid to bring your step-mom to spend time with y’all, alone, for the holidays, but they read some of her medical history. They know she was raised in a religious suicide cult, you can’t match that kind of energy! Within the last thirty minutes of the film, it becomes an even more incredibly frightening moment as you realize there is no going back. They have pushed their step-mother to the brink.
The Lodge is haunting and has moments of excellent dread, but it is even more compelling when you think of the dark Hansel & Gretel style twist it played on the audience by making the kids the real villains.
(image: Bertrand Calmeau/Bertrand Calmeau/ NEON)
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