We’ve seen films that contain other films within them before, it’s often done to explain something or provide further background, in Tales From The Lodge, it’s taken to a whole other level.
A group of former uni-friends meet up in a remote lodge to scatter their friend’s ashes who killed himself by drowning in the lake nearby.
There’s Joe, Mackenzie Crook (“Eat Locals“, “Detectorists (TV)”), who is married to Martha, Laura Fraser (“Beats“, “I Am Not A Serial Killer“), then Russell, Johnny Vegas (“Early Man“, “Grimsby”), and his wife Emma, Sophie Thompson (“Detectorists (TV)”, “Coronation Street (TV)”), and finally Paul, Dustin Demri-Burns (“The Dark Crystal: Age Of Resistance (TV)“, “Horrible Histories: The Movie – Rotten Romans“).
Joe is ill with a heart defect, awaiting a transplant, Russell and Emma are happy to be out of the house and away from the kids for a while and Paul is the player of the group, and has brought his new girlfriend Miki, Kelly Wenham (“Life On Mars (TV)”, “Good”).
Martha takes an instant dislike to Miki, for no reason other than she doesn’t get why she’s there at this personal weekend of scattering their friend’s ashes. The two are at each other like cats from the off.
Russell just wants to get drunk and let his hair down, whilst Joe has doubts that Martha still loves him, believing she’s perhaps just still with him because he’s ill.
The lodge is remote, no mobile signal or WiFi, and there is a landline, but this ends up being cut-off early on.
To break the weekend the friends tell each other stories, this is perhaps something they’ve always done though that’s not really explained, in that context it seems a bit odd that they’d tell each other made-up stories rather than talk about their lives since they last met.
Anyway, tell stories they do and it’s here when Tales From The Lodge begins to really come to life. Each tale is directed by the person telling it, which is a lovely, unselfish touch from writer and director Abigail Blackmore (“Vintage Blood (Short)”).
Vegas tells a post-apocalyptic story involving zombies and a “Kiefer Sutherland or similar” character, Vegas in a blonde wig. Laura’s is a tale of demons and a careful what you wish for message, whilst Demri-Burns tells a mysterious tale of a death and a mad man with a machete.
But it is Crook’s story that really stands out. We are big fans of Mackenzie Crook here at OC Movie Reviews, particularly behind the camera, and his story of a recurring dream he keeps having is that much different from the others. It’s dark, messed up in a delicious way, and very well directed.
Thompson doesn’t really get a story, just a tale about giving birth which is horrific as the others if I’m honest. And Wenham, well, you need to watch to see her story.
After suitably scaring each other with a couple of stories, strange things begin occurring around the lodge. Phones go dead, Miki, who falls out with Paul, comes running back to the lodge all dishevelled and screaming about a mysterious man who grabbed her.
When the gang eventually go to investigate they see that all their cars have been pushed into the lake. Now they are suitably scared, and not just from stories. Who is this stranger? What is going to happen to them? And will anyone ever get to eat the quiche Emma brought?
Tales From The Lodge is a really nice idea, it’s a fun tale of revenge ultimately and whilst each individual story, told by the friends, is good, none of them really fit with the overall story. This is an interesting decision and I can imagine some will find it jarring, I didn’t particularly mind.
Each story is very well told, with each being different from the other. What’s fun is that, as these stories within a story are being told, the characters pause, break the fourth wall and get interrupted by what’s going on back at the lodge. It makes the whole thing much more amusing.
I do hope someone picks up on the idea and creates a series of shorts, written and directed by those involved, a sort of Tales Of The Unexpected or Twilight Zone, I think it would be great.
Anyway, back to Tales From The Lodge (title right there), it’s a funny film with a clever twist, well-acted, perhaps a touch slow in the main story, but a fun movie nonetheless.