From the creators of horror cult-classic ‘Goodnight Mommy,’ ‘The Lodge‘ is a terrifying and acutely distressing thriller. At its outset—although quite disturbing—the film seems to be simple with its storyline. But as it further unfolds itself, it first captivates you, then startles you and eventually, leaves you with a heavy freight of emotions that stay with you long after it’s over. The movie’s twisted plot can also be extremely baffling for a viewer, and not to mention, it’s ambiguous ending leaves you with several allegories. So further down in this article, we’ll break down all the major plot points of the film and explain how they lead up to its ending.
After Laura, the mother of Aidan and Mia commits suicide, her ex-husband Richard tries to convince them to spend some time with Grace, the woman he wants to marry. This is when Aidan recalls reading about Grace in one of his father’s books and calls her a psychopath. Later, Aidan and Mia even sneak into their dad’s study and find an old video of Grace, which reveals that she had a very traumatic childhood. She was the only surviving member of a suicide cult when she was a child, but since then, she has recovered. But as the premise of the film slowly begins to unfold, Grace’s past trauma begins to resurface and goes way off into the deep end.
Believing that Grace is responsible for their mother’s suicide, Aidan and Mia devise a plan to seek revenge from their soon-to-be stepmother, after their father leaves them with her in an isolated lodge. But since they’re kids and very naive about the consequences their actions, they don’t realize what it could it all lead up to. With the sole intention of pranking her, the two kids make her believe that they’re all dead and are now in purgatory. Little do they realize that they’re psychologically manipulating her and instilling buried feelings of depression, guilt, fear, paranoia, and passivity in her mind.
Grace’s Post-Cult Trauma
At first, the kids completely isolate her by shutting themselves off in their rooms. And since they are trapped in the Lodge, Grace has no one else to talk to. When Aidan and Mia finally start talking to her, Grace’s sense of emotional gratification is fulfilled because she is already vulnerable and that’s how she slowly gives away all control to the kids by trusting them. This is when Aidan uses deception to reinstate her old cult memories and convinces her that they’re all actually dead.
He first pretends to hang himself and then places an old recorder in the attic of the home, which keeps chiming the words of Grace’s cult leader to make sure that she falls for his plan. So in a nutshell, by walking her through a process of isolation, love-bombing, dependency, and finally deception, the kids unknowingly make her a part of her old cult again, which does not even exist anymore.
The Significance of the Doll House
Throughout its runtime, the film takes harrowing shots of a huge dollhouse from Mia’s bedroom. In the initial moments of the film, Aidan and Mia can also be seen playing with dolls in this house, right before they leave for their mountain retreat with Grace. Grace’s dwindling sense of reality makes her feel extremely paranoid and after not being able to find her medicine, she realizes that she could be a threat to the children. So she decides to walk out of the lodge in the freezing cold and attempts to find a nearby town.
However, she fails and this further breaks her. Later she even finds her dog frozen dead outside, and if one can recall correctly, in opening scenes of the film, she tells Mia that her dog helped her get through her toxic past. After her dog’s death, she finally tips her toes into the dark side and just sits outside in the freezing cold for hours. That’s when the kids tell her that all of it was just a prank and they’re not actually dead. This is when the film takes another brief look at the dollhouse and its significance in the movie becomes clear.
The dollhouse is apparently an exact replica of the lodge on the mountain. Before heading out to the lodge, the kids had planned all of this, which explains how they came up with those zany posters and photos of their deaths and were also very well prepared with other things. In the final moments of the film, Richard takes one look at the dollhouse and realizes that his kids are up to no good.
The Ending: A Metaphor for Purgatory
After sitting through the disturbing storyline of the film, as a viewer, you start praying for an optimistic ending. And when Richard finally makes his way back to the Lodge, hope is restored; though, only for a few brief moments. Grace spends the entire night practicing self-flagellation, making it pretty evident that her devotion to her old cult has returned. She takes a loaded gun and almost kills the kids when Richard gets there on time.
Although he tries to stop her, she shows no signs of recovery and shoots him. The kids try to escape after this, but she’s able to get to them on time. In the closing moments, Grace, Adian, Mia, and dead Richard can be seen sitting on the Lodge’s dining table. Together, they sing “Nearer, My God, to Thee” and try to repent their sins. Grace then takes pieces of duct tape with “SIN” written on them, places one on her own mouth, and then places the other two on Aidan and Mia’s mouth. This goes back to the video in the initial moments of the movie where young grace had a similar tape on her mouth during her cult’s practices. The film takes an abutting shot of the gun on the table, makes it pretty obvious that they’ll probably kill themselves now, and the credits start rolling.
The twisted ending of the film reflects on how guilty the two kids feel about doing what they did to Grace and also alludes to the classic saying: “Before you embark on a journey of revenge, dig two graves.” Apart from that, it serves a metaphor for purgatory. If you might have noticed, the film heavily emphasizes the term “purgatory” and only talks about how one can go to heaven after repenting one’s sins. Not even once does it say anything about hell. Throughout its runtime, it blurs the lines between good and evil and makes you empathize with all of its characters.
The kids do some really brutal things but they’ve always been ignorant about their actions. Moreover, after knowing that their mother killed herself, they clearly went through a lot. On the other hand, Grace’s actions in the latter part of the movie were all justified as the kids pushed her to her limit. So although the whole setup was a prank for seeking revenge, in the end, they were all indeed in purgatory, repenting their own sins. No one was good and no one was evil, but they’ve all committed sins that they’ll have to expiate.
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