FrightFest review – Little Bone Lodge
An entry in a recent run of films – The Owners, Don’t Breathe, Livide, Villains – in which bad people invade a home only to find they’re up against possibly worse people, Little Bone Lodge is also a pleasantly gothic throwback to the sort of tricky tales set at remote British homes (here, a farm) in 1950s quota quickies or 1970s episodes of Brian Clemens’ Thriller series. It offers a combustible mix of personalities and many shifts of allegiance within a small cast of characters, and manages to spring surprises while foreshadowing the next twist so it doesn’t quite come out of nowhere.
Paranoid, resourceful Mama (Joely Richardson) cares for paralysed Pa (Roger Ajogbe) with the help of teenager Maisy (Sadie Soverall), living off the grid after a traumatising accident – with every member of the little family holding back their own secrets. On the traditional dark and stormy night comes a knock at the door, and screaming … bipolar lost soul Matty (Harry Cadby) begs help for his wounded brother Jack (screenwriter Neil Linpow), whom he has hauled away from a car wreck. Mama is suspicious but overruled by Maisy, who is as keen on having someone else to talk to as on doing a good deed. Mama turns out to have the medical skill to extract a pipe from Jack’s gut and sew him up – Jack and Matty also have secrets, including a dead man and a stash of cash left in the car, and there’s a violent crimelord (Cameron Jack) about with a personal interest in the case. Of course, Mama is proved right when the ungrateful, desperate Jack pulls a gun and starts threatening the women if they don’t offer more help …
In some ways, Linpow harks back beyond the present cycle to Roman Polanski’s Cul-de-Sac, rescrambling elements from that with more gothic than absurdism and even overtones of the little-lamented torture porn cycle (farming and surgery rarely go together happily). Behind every door is something horrible. And blurts of backstory bleed out whenever wounds in the plot are prodded. What makes the piece grip is its relatively complicated characterisations, with Richardson and Cadby standouts as a firm mother and a misfit desperately in need of parenting. They naturally gravitate towards each other as loyalties strain or are shown to be illusions. None of the visitors or residents get through the night unscarred. Directed by Matthias Hoene, who is continuing his zig-zagging through British genre material (Beyond the Rave, Cockneys vs Zombies, The Warriors Gate).
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