Tales from the Lodge

Director: Abigail Blackmore

Writer: Abigail Blackmore

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

Producers: Ed Barratt, Richard Wylie

Music: Warren Bennett

Cinematographer: David Mackie

Editor: Agnieszka Liggett, Edel McDonnell

Cert: 15 (TBC)

Running time: 93mins

Year: 2019

What’s the story: A group of people gather at a dead friend’s lakeside lodge to scatter his ashes. To pass the time they tell spooky stories.

What’s the verdict: Like a middle-class Tales from the Crypt, Tales from the Lodge is an anthology movie containing six stories ranging from the comic to the creepy. Linking the macabre tales is an anchor plot of five friends (and one unwelcome girlfriend) all spending the weekend at a departed pal’s lodge to scatter his ashes and get blotto in his memory.

Debuting director Blackmore has allowed her cast to direct the stories their characters narrate, which presumably was what attracted such names as Mackenzie Crook, Johnny Vegas and Laura Fraser to the project. Blackmore herself assuredly handles the lodge sequences, conjuring up a widescreen, wintry chilliness suggesting peculiar goings-on may not be located solely within the tales being told.

As with all anthology movies success depends on the strength of the individual segments. While there is no real stinker, not all hit their mark. Best of the bunch is Johnny Vegas’ zombie outbreak yarn, with himself a “Kiefer Sutherland” like anti-hero. Laura Fraser’s, which proposes demonic possession as a cure for middle-age malaise, literally comes a close second.

Echoing a particular Halloween episode of Community, characters comically interrupt stories with offscreen questions and plot-hole picking.

One great laugh concerning “pre-emptive screaming” will resonate with horror aficionados. As should the characters’ naturalistic banter and bickering, framing this as an all-too believable slightly rubbish weekend getaway.

But, even at 93-minutes Tales from the Lodge feels overstretched. Although Blackmore does pull it together with a climactic reveal that has rubbed some reviewers the wrong way, but we thought was preposterously good fun.

No Dead of Night (or that 1972 version of Tales from the Crypt with Joan Collins and the mad Father Christmas), but enough to keep an eye out for the director’s next spooky story.

Rob Daniel
Twitter: rob_a_Daniel
iTunes Podcast: The Electric Shadows Podcast

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