THE LODGE (Severin Fiala, Veronika Franz). 108 minutes. Opens Friday (February 21). See listing. Rating: NNN
Transplanting their distinctive exploration into familial trauma from their native Austria to the U.S., directors Severin Fiala and Veronika Franz’s follow-up to Goodnight Mommy stars Riley Keough as a new stepmother charged with caring for two children reeling from the suicide of their mother (Alicia Silverstone in a bracing cameo).
Displaying the same meticulous attention to the eeriness of modern living spaces as its predecessor, The Lodge, written by Fiala and Franz with Sergio Casci, is an arrestingly atmospheric chiller, though its relentless ominousness has a way of rendering the tone somewhat airless.
Following a brutal summer prologue, the film jumps ahead to the days before Christmas, with Richard (Richard Armitage) struggling to integrate Grace (Keough) into his family. His grieving kids (Lia McHugh and It’s Jaeden Martell), however, want nothing to do with the woman they regard as culpable for their mother’s death, so they’re less than thrilled to be left alone with Grace for a few days at the family’s isolated rural lodge.
An early reveal lets us know that Grace herself is a survivor of tragedy and medicating herself into cheerfulness – which is where the casting of Keough proves canny. In a cabin-fever story otherwise drenched in foreboding, Keough’s hint of eccentricity provides a little freshness against which to leverage inevitable doom.