Little Bone Lodge - New Release Review
Director: Matthias Hoene
Starring: Joely Richardson, Neil Linpow, Sadie Soverall, Harry Cadby, Roger Ajogbe
Written by: Neil Linpow
Produced by: Leonora Darby, Mark Lane
Cinematography by: Job Reineke
Original Score by: Christopher Carmichael
Set during a vicious storm, two criminal brothers on the run seek refuge in a desolate farmhouse. Taking the resident family captive, they find the house holds dark secrets of its own.
The set-up to 'Little Bone Lodge' may seem familiar at first, but a tide turning twist half way through flips the film on it's head as it quickly switches from a standard home invasion movie to shocking survival horror.
Joely Richardson stars as Mama, a doting mother who loves nothing more than taking care of her disabled husband and her young daughter Maisy. The family have an idyllic life on the surface, living from the land on a substantially large farm. But we soon find out that another sibling, Ollie, sadly passed away in a tragic car accident years prior. The same accident that injured Pa (Roger Ajogbe). Mama is the stereotypical maternal matriarch of the family and is super protective of Maisy (Sadie Soverall), much to her daughter's disdain.
Their idyllic life is rudely interrupted when a hammering at their front door from Matty (Harry Cadby) begging for help ruins their cozy night in during a nasty thunderstorm. Although the intricate details are never 100% confirmed, Matty has some learning disabilities and could also potentially be on the spectrum. It's certainly implied that he isn't quite of sound and mind as he was previously institutionalised. Matty's older brother Jack (Neil Linpow) has been severely injured in a car crash down the road from Mama's house and if she doesn't assist immediately then Jack will probably die from his wounds.
After some initial reservations, Mama's maternal instinct kicks in and she allows Matty to drag his injured brother inside the house so she can assess the damage and fix him up, which naturally she does successfully because she used to be an anaesthetist. After Jack comes to we then find out the true nature of the brothers past.
The script written by Neil Linpow, who plays Jack, isn't the most original, at least not initially anyway, but around 45 minutes or so in we get a massive revelation that truly adds a unique quality to the film. It's a great twist and while I really enjoyed the reveal and where it went, I had a deep sense that it was coming or something like it because of a few lines of dialogue that Richardson has with Linpow in the car a few scenes prior. It really felt forced and extraneous and if omitted entirely then the twist would've had an even bigger impact.
Loved Matthias Heone's direction which is a huge shift from his previous work. The location is fantastic too. The farmhouse looks so homey inside and as Matty admits later, it is safe. The use of sound is applied really well here too. I wore headphones watching and I could hear every little scratch on a door or sway of a window as the heavy wind battered the glass, which made the more tense moments pop off the screen.
The most striking element of the entire film is the performances from the four leads. Joely Richardson is as good as I've ever seen her and she really brings an emotional depth to the character. Cadby and Linpow are both phenomenal as the two brothers struggling to come to terms with their situation, that seems to get worse as the film progresses. Linpow is very reminiscent of a young Paddy Considine here and Cadby approaches his role with subtle dignity and brings a ton of heart and soul to a character that so easily could have been overacted. There's a fantastic scene where they almost come to blows that is genuinely heartbreaking.
'Little Bone Lodge' isn't filled with a lot of scares but it absolutely delivers in tension and although the finale plays out a tad generically, it has sincerity and a strong message about family.
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- Gavin Logan
Signature Entertainment presents 'Little Bone Lodge' on Digital Platforms 22nd May