The Lodge is a lame psychological horror film that will have you checking out immediately

click to enlarge Scream and scream again: The Lodge will have you shouting in exasperation.
Scream and scream again: The Lodge will have you shouting in exasperation.

First of all: No. Why would a suddenly single dad to traumatized young children leave said shocked and distressed kids with his new fiancée, who is also the sole survivor of her own massive childhood trauma? He's also her therapist and should know she is incredibly vulnerable and perhaps not fit to watch over anyone's children, never mind his own.

I can't. I just cannot with this movie. The Lodge purports to be the latest thing in horror... or something. But they said the same about Midsommar last year, and Hereditary the year before. And sure, if you loved Midsommar and Hereditary and they didn't register with you as deeply problematic, you might find this one creepy, too.

If I thought The Lodge was supposed to be a condemnation of men's utter idiocy, especially as fathers, maybe I could get behind it. Worse, though, I think that maybe it is intended as such, but again, I reiterate: No.

OK, so, Richard Armitage (whom I adore and, perhaps smartly, he barely appears here) leaves his kids (Jaeden Martell and Lia McHugh) with his intended (Riley Keough), whom the children barely know but definitely resent, in a remote mountain lodge in the run-up to Christmas as a way for everyone to get to know one another. He has to work but will join them later. It doesn't go very well, for obvious down-to-earth reasons.

And then it turns worse, for reasons that could be supernatural, or maybe not, but probably the latter because there really isn't any other explanation. It's completely banal, offering no insight into anything — not the human condition, not love in all its many iterations, not even passive-aggressive biological attachment.

Even as I am so down on this damn movie, I still might be giving too much credit to it. It's entirely plausible that directors Severin Fiala and Veronika Franz honestly believed they were exploring what it means to suffer, to be haunted, to not understand what is real and what is fantasy because of how you have been raised. The absolute mishmash of psychological motivations ostensibly at work here is an infuriating blend of, well, a whole lotta nothing. This is a movie that wants to have its ambiguous cake and eat it, too. Fiala and Franz's previous feature Goodnight Mommy, about the abuse of trust that parents can engage in, also gets a big ol' "no" from me.

There's another older movie that The Lodge reminds me of, but to name it would be a spoiler for this movie. Except sort of not, either. Because whereas that other movie works on multiple levels — whether you want to see it as concretely "factual" (at least as far as its otherworldly elements can take that) or merely metaphorical — this one doesn't work on any of the levels you might stretch to grant to it.

Basically, f--- these movies that you cannot even talk about, even to say, "Just don't waste your time with it," because all they have going for them is a vague "please don't spoil" vibe. ♦

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