An isolated lodge somewhere in England. Five old university pals, now nudging 40, gather for a weekend to scatter the ashes of their friend, Jonesy, who drowned himself in the lake three years earlier. They settle in for a fun evening, entertaining each other with stories of murders, ghosts, zombies and possessions, but as day turns to night the gang become aware of another horror story unfolding around them. And this one is real.
Tales From The Lodge begins with slight promise. Womanizing Paul (Dustin Demri-Burns) arrives at a solemn weekend getaway to share in spreading his deceased friend’s ashes out on a picturesque lake. He is joined by his longtime friends Russell (Johnny Vegas) and Emma (Sophie Thompson) who use every opportunity to explain that they have three monstrous kids that they are happy to be free of, and Martha (Laura Fraser) and Joe (Mackenzie Crook) who are dealing with Joe’s terminal heart ailment. Oh but that cheeky Paul has gone and invited his latest girlfriend, Miki (Kelly Wenham). A typical British farce has been set with the added promise of horror thrown in for extra fun as the friends decide to regale each other with tales of zombies, ghosts, murders, and mayhem. Somehow though, the film becomes a painful slog of mannered comedy, yawn-inducing tales of fright, bookended by an offensive bookend device.
To be fair we do get to spend the most time with the watchable Wenham who plays the odd man out at a funeral weekend. Pouting about in a pink sweater and lovely 80’s hair, she makes every attempt to be accepted. To pass the time we get rather forgettable cutaway stories of the macabre. Paul relates a story of finding a bloody woman impaled on his car in an abandoned garage. Emma relates a ghost story of a horny phantasm that intercedes and spices up a marriage. Russell tells a tale of being a hero during a zombie apocalypse, and so it goes. Virtually none of the stories are the least bit scary and only mildly entertaining, to say nothing of the promised laughs that never materialize.
There is some talent here. I think that is what bothers me the most about this bland attempt. We can clearly see talent coming from these actors, but the material is dreadful. We know that the movie has a modest yet workable budget as there is some lovely editing from Agnieszka Liggett and Edel McDonnell matched to clean cinematography by David Mackie. Despite all of this money and talent, we end up with a bore of a horror comedy.
If I were to place blame anywhere I think it might lie squarely at the feet of writer-director Abigail Blackmore. According to the credits, Blackmore is responsible for the plodding pace with scenes that roll out at a glacial rhythm in comedic and horror measurements. As the writer, she is also responsible for a framing device that yet again turns orientation and gender identity into a malicious weapon and comedic foil. Can we please stop with this type of humor?
My advice? Go rent the Cabin in the Woods for horror comedy and leave Tales From The Lodge off your to-do list.
Norm(an) Gidney is a nearly lifelong horror fan. Beginning his love for the scare at the age of 5 by watching John Carpenter's Halloween, he set out on a quest to share his passion for all things spooky with the rest of the world.
By Norman GidneyPublished On: March 10, 2019Categories: SXSWComments Off on SXSW 2019 TALES FROM THE LODGE [REVIEW]