Tales From The Lodge

***

Reviewed by: Jennie Kermode

Tales From The Lodge
"A solid little film which delivers well within the scope of its simple ambition."

Five old friends. A ceremony to disperse the ashes left behind by the sixth. The English equivalent of a cabin in the woods - a self-catering holiday lodge that can't be more than 15 miles from civilisation, but these are the sort of people who would consider that a long walk. In a horror movie this instantly raises a red flag but these aren't the sort of people who think of themselves as horror movie victims - they're not teenagers, they're middle aged and sensible. To them, the most horrific thing about the gathering is that Paul (Dustin Demri-Burns) has chosen to bring along his girlfriend Miki (Kelly Wenham), instantly classed as a bimbo by Martha (Laura Fraser), who makes a special effort to ensure that she feels unwelcome.

The thing about dispersing ashes is that it doesn't take very long. They might as well make a weekend of it. They might as well do a bit of drinking - it's what poor old Jonesy would have wanted. Sitting around in their cabin with nothing else to do, they exchange scary stories, each of them brought to life for us to watch. What they don't realise is that they're caught up in a dangerous situation themselves - one that will end in blood and screaming and force them to confront their secret guilt.

Copy picture

Abigail Blackmore's playful feature d├ębut as director brings a distinctly different sensibility to the horror comedy. In the first story, which involves Paul lending his car to a man who turns out to have a sinister agenda, due concern is expressed for the well-being of the car. Joe (Mackenzie Crook) tells a story inspired by his need for a heart transplant. The most traditional one involves Russell (Johnny Vegas) imagining life as a shite Kiefer Sutherland living in the aftermath of a zombie apocalypse - an image that will stay with you. There's a deliberately underwhelming quality to these stories - in contrast to the 'real' one, which goes gleefully over the top. You'll either connect with this or you won't - some people are inevitably going to be disappointed by the film whilst others will find this approach a delight.

With a capable cast who present us with fully fledged characters despite the limited screentime available to each, this is a solid little film which delivers well within the scope of its simple ambition. Though it does indulge in a bit of splatter this is on the lighter side and there are no really scary moments, so it should work for non-horror fans who simply enjoy the comedy. Whilst there's no attempt to be deep, there are some nice observations and the film is nicely paced, leading up to a manic phase at the end. If you were once a wildly partying teenager and you now live in the suburbs with 2.3 children and drive a Ford Escape, Tales From The Lodge will make you feel like it's not too late for you too to be murdered by a psychopath.

Reviewed on: 10 Mar 2019
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When a group of old friends spend the night telling stories of murders, ghosts, zombies and possessions they soon become aware of another tale unfolding around them. And this one is real.

Director: Abigail Blackmore

Writer: Abigail Blackmore

Starring: Mackenzie Crook, Dustin Demri-Burns, Laura Fraser, Sophie Thompson, Johnny Vegas, Kelly Wenham

Year: 2019

Runtime: 93 minutes

Country: UK

Festivals:

SXSW 2019

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