CS Interview: The cast and directors of horror film The Lodge
After receiving rave reviews at the Sundance Film Festival last year, Neon’s dark horror-thriller The Lodge has finally arrived in theaters this weekend. ComingSoon.net got the opportunity to chat with the co-writers/directors Veronika Franz and Severin Fiala (Goodnight Mommy), as well as the younger stars of the cast Jaeden Martell (It) and Lia McHugh (The Eternals).
Starring Golden Globe nominee Riley Keough (The Girlfriend Experience), Martell, McHugh, Golden Globe nominee Alicia Silverstone (American Woman), and Richard Armitage (Berlin Station, The Hobbit trilogy), The Lodge is a bone-chilling nightmare that begins with a fractured family as Richard (Armitage) tells his children, Aidan (Martell), and Mia (McHugh), of his intent to marry his new girlfriend, Grace (Keough).
In an effort to bond, the family retreat to their remote winter cabin. However, when Richard is forced to abruptly depart for work, he leaves the children in Grace’s care. Isolated and alone, a blizzard traps them inside the lodge and terrifying events summon specters from Grace’s dark past. As nerves fray and tensions rise, Grace, Aidan, and Mia have to fight for deliverance against unseen forces of evil.
The Lodge is directed by Franz and Fiala, who co-wrote the script with Sergio Casci and is in theaters now!
Franz and Fiala found themselves in the spotlight after their horror-thriller Goodnight Mommy blew up overseas from its home nation of Austria in 2014, earning rave reviews from critics and audiences everywhere, which the two were grateful for but “hadn’t been prepared for.” The two took the time getting adjusted to the “American style of filmmaking,” choosing to read every script sent their way and make notes as they went, including getting the script for this year’s The Turning, which they rejected before reading it, as “we can never do that because it’s one of the greatest masterpieces.”
“We have another film ready in order to shoot it like after Goodnight Mommy,” Fiala revealed. “It’s a period piece called The Devil’s Bath, a German-language period piece. But we had a really hard time financing it because it’s very dark and not overly commercial. So to put it, it’s a bit more expensive, so we couldn’t finance it and we only managed to finance it now and we’re going to shoot this summer. I think we have something else ready, so I think from now on we won’t have to wait that long because there are many more things to direct pretty much ready.”
In talking about their style of filmmaking, the two discussed their desire to always go for atmospheric scares versus gore, comparing more gore-centric films to “fabricated” fast-food such as McDonald’s and calling it a more conventional method to telling a story.
“Sometimes, eating a hamburger is perfect, and sometimes, you’re looking for something different,” Fiala described. “I think our film is the something different in that way because it’s not fabricated after a formula that much. It maybe plays with expectations or with what you might expect a horror film to be. But we feel how we use silence and how open it is and how much the audience has to bring themselves onto the film to experience something in that way. It’s really different from the Hollywood way of being scary.”
“We just love the horror film audience because they’re also compared to arthouse audiences, for example, they are very, very open to kind of this form,” Franz said. “You can confront them with dark things. It’s suspenseful, not always gore, but at least suspenseful or threatening in a way. They will stay and they will try to understand and we appreciate that very much.”
Martell and McHugh both agree that the film is an unnerving experience, praising their directors and the crew for the work they did to create a bigger picture that is sure to terrify audiences.
“I still haven’t seen it with an audience, but whenever I watch a movie that I’m in, I don’t enjoy watching myself,” Martell said. “I know when it comes to horror I’m not scared because I feel like I should know what’s going to happen, the plot points, but with this, it definitely came together with the score and just the tone of the movie and a part of the big picture that you don’t really see as an actor, but as a viewer, it would be creepy.”
“Watching the movie, I was really scared to watch it,” McHugh described. “It was at Sundance when I first saw it with an audience and my mom and everyone and I was really scared to see everyone’s reaction, but at the end of it, when everyone was terrified and screaming and everything, it really excited me. I absolutely loved the movie. Watching it come together was incredible.”
One of the biggest influences Fiala and Franz brought into their film is the iconic John Carpenter sci-fi horror pic The Thing, which they were also able to use multiple clips of in their film. The duo found the paranoia the characters in Carpenter’s story was very similar to what their characters were forced to go through and they wanted to capture that same tone.
“It’s an amazing masterpiece, we don’t want to compare ourselves to that yet,” Fiala said. “I think it’s somehow related, it’s those “cabin fever” movies in the cold. You never know who’s The Thing, who’s the monster, who’s the bad guy, it could be anyone. Anyone could break out and be The Thing, and that’s a thought that we would love to also apply to our film in a way. Everybody can be a monster, monsters are in every one of us, it’s just a matter of situation if they break out or not.”
Prior to getting the script, Martell was riding a wave of success from New Line Cinema’s IT movies, but was prepared to leave the genre behind, unsure if he felt comfortable continuing with work it in it, but after watching the duo’s 2014 hit, everything changed for him.
“I wasn’t sure if I wanted to do another horror after reading the script, but then I watched Goodnight Mommy, and I kind of realized that, ‘Oh, they make really unique and interesting films that aren’t exactly horror, but it’s more of a psychological thriller,'” Martell said. “So I was really interested in them and wanting to work with them, so I knew I had to be a part of it.”
McHugh similarly credits the psychological thriller as driving her to want to work with the duo, falling in love with “the way that they shot” and that it “really gave me confidence in everything.”