*. A movie that primarily made me think of other movies. The Shining. The Visit. Hereditary. Though I guess it’s mainly the use of the doll house that reminded me of Hereditary. I wonder why, however, the doll house motif never serves any function in either movie. It’s not even much of a visual motif to be exploited.
*. One movie it didn’t make me think of was Rebecca, though apparently that was the inspiration for filmmakers Veronika Franz and Severin Fiala (Fiala is Franz’s nephew). I never had the sense for a moment that the spirit of the deceased wife/mother was haunting the lodge. Inspiration is a funny thing.
*. The premise is really hard for me to buy into. A guy with two emotionally damaged children thinks they need to spend some quality time alone in a remote location with an emotionally damaged young woman he doesn’t really know that well. And just in case there’s any trouble, he leaves her with a gun. Yeah, I can’t foresee there being any problems with that.
*. Is that what’s called a lodge nowadays? It looks like a mansion, inside and out. Apparently it’s actually a golf resort outside of Montreal.
*. Just to dilate on this a bit, it seems to me that a lot of today’s production design goes hand-in-hand with trends in cinematography. In a nutshell: these movies aren’t shot in such a way that the settings seem realistic, so they aren’t physically realistic either. I mean, look at the attic here. I get that it’s being stretched and emptied out for dramatic effect, but it might be an airplane hangar. That’s a line I’m reusing from my notes on the similarly snowbound “cabin” in The Hateful 8. I’m trying to think of the last time I saw an interior in a horror film that really struck me as looking like the interior of a house that anyone actually lives in and I’m not coming up with much. And yet this used to be a point of pride among set designers. Home sets were supposed to look lived in.
*. Isn’t Mia (the little girl) too young to be watching Carpenter’s The Thing? Grace is really letting those kids get away with murder.
*. Ah, the old failed rescue. Did that become a standard trope in The Shining? I think we can retire it now.
*. Another stand-by (I told you this was a movie that made me think of other movies) is the old “is she or isn’t she crazy” plot. This is particularly popular with movies looking to spring a twist or surprise ending on us. Think Unsane. Most twist endings don’t work though, either because (1) they’re so obvious the reveal doesn’t come as a surprise, or (2) they’re so ridiculous you can’t believe them even after the reveal.
*. I was surprised by the ending of The Lodge, but mostly because I found it incredible. That really was a hell of a plan. Throw in the whopper of a premise to get it all started and this was a movie where I didn’t feel up to the task of suspending my disbelief. I know he’s still young, but I think I’ve already seen enough of Jaeden Martell. Riley Keough is really good but the rest of it is just kind of depressing and dull. Impressive art direction, but it overwhelms a schlocky, William Castle story that’s a poor fit for this kind of epic, lugubrious treatment.