**(out of Four stars)
The film starts off with a women tied to a bed. She's struggling to free herself as an unseen person climbs on top of her. The camera floats away; out the door, down a hall and descending a few stairs. The person follows the camera and we are led to a basement, where a woman is seated in a chair; tied and gagged. Her throat is slit. So begins THE LODGE.
Michael (Owen Szabo) and Julia (Elizabeth Kell) have been together for three years. They're young, happy and very into each other. Michael rents out a lodge in the Colorado mountains for an entire weekend. His hope is to relax, smoke and have hardcore sex with Julia in ALL ten rooms of the lodge.
Once inside, the young couple finds the lodge may have been occupied recently. The kitchen is left dirty. Like somebody had to leave quickly.
Enter Henry (Kevin McClatchy) the caretaker of the lodge. From the get go, this dude is just not right. As he stands in the kitchen he's caked with blood, supposedly cutting up a deer in the garage. There's no denying or actually hiding the fact that he's gonna turn out to be a lunatic.
Brad Helmink and John Rauschelbach direct this low budget film. They do have a few things going for them on this first feature. The cast is good. Owen Szabo and Elizabeth Kell are great characters and actually good, competent actors. The chemistry is there. Later on, when things get ugly, Owen and Elizabeth's performances shine even brighter. Another thing that this film has going for it is the beautiful cinematography by Aaron Platt. The lush mountains are beautifully shot and captured. He took advantage of the landscape and location. In the opening the film is bright and colorful, but later, (again when things turn ugly) the lights get darker - with blues, reds, and blacks. The camera compensates the different moods of the film. A job well done.
Unfortunately, this film falls flat for me. I really felt that although the acting was great, there was just no where for the performances to go. There's a long bit where it's just cat and mouse, long after the suspense had faded, the scenes kept going on and on - running and hiding and running and hiding some more. It just lost it's suspense factor after a while.
Another issue was the give away early in the film. Henry obviously is the killer. There's no guessing game, no who dun it, nothing to keep you guessing. From the first scenes you know he's just not right. I really wish they would have flushed out a little mystery with this film. Somewhere in the middle, a little blond haired girl is seen stalking around the house. What is she? A ghost? A victim of Henry's? When it's revealed, I'd say that could be your twist - but I'm still not biting.
Overall, this film was good. I've realized a few things when trying to make out a good film from a bad one. If the acting is good, and there's a decent story, then you don't have a lot to complain about. Like I said, it did fall flat for me, but I'm in no way being negative about this flick. There were moments when it grabbed you. There were moments when I was stunned by the vibrant quality of the cinematography. There were some moments that keep you at bay, waiting for that moment of horror. But it all comes down to a bunch of good scenes or parts. As a whole, well, it does suffer a little. I'd work out the script a little better next time.
By all means give it a look.
Starring: Kevin McClatchy, Owen Szabo, Elizabeth Kell
Directed by: Brad Helmink and John Rauschelbach
Screenplay by: Deb Havener