There’s an exchange in Frank Darabont’s film The Mist where two characters trapped in a supermarket at the end of the world discuss whether having faith in humanity’s inherent goodness is wise or whether, once the lights go out and you frighten everybody bad enough, they’ll revert to caveman brain. The Mist comes down, and it comes down hard, on the side of post-apocalyptic misanthropy, and now it’s got a good bad-time buddy in Veronika Franz and Severin Fiala’s traumatically delicious The Lodge (their follow-up to the glorious Goodnight Mommy), out in theaters this weekend.
We don’t meet our main character of Grace (Riley Keough) until a good fifteen minutes into The Lodge, instead spending our set-up with her presumptive family-to-be — psychotherapist Richard (Richard Armitage) with his teenaged boy Aiden (Jaeden Martell) and approximate tween Mia (Lia McHugh) — as they deal with the dissolution of their previous familial arrangement, leaving their depressed Mom (Alicia Silverstone) in the dust. And it won’t be the first time this film leaves its sense of Grace delayed, let’s leave it at that.
Keough haunts these early scenes, though — the back of her head exiting a garden here, a milky figure wavering behind frosted glass there — more of a spectre than a person. And as the film does eventually close in on her, staring hard in the face of Grace and her terrible past, marking her terrible future, her ghostliness becomes inescapable — her attempts at finding form, at finding a sane place in the world where she can define herself outside of all her traumas, rattle like sand on an earthquake surface. Everything disassembles.
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