Film Review: Little Bone Lodge

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Holy Joely!

Home invasion horror Little Bone Lodge debuted at the FrightFest strand of last year’s Glasgow Film Festival and became available for streaming on Now earlier this month.

Little Bone Lodge film poster, featuring a house hanging in the air, wrapped up in chains.

Directed by Matthias Hoene, based on a script by Neil Linpow (who also features as one of the leads), Little Bone Lodge was initially promoted as a psychological thriller – which it is – but a delicious Act 2 twist sends it solidly into horror territory.

We all love a home invasion, don’t we?

From classics like Us (2019), through The Strangers (2008), to High Tension (2003), to Funny Games (1997), all the way back to Straw Dogs (1971), this subgenre has an immediate visceral intensity for all of us.

Unwelcome, unpredictable, unknown strangers inside our most sacred safe space: it’s a primal fear.

A young girl lights candles on a birthday cake while an older woman looks on. Still from Little Bone Lodge.

Hoene plays the cards for this genre well in the setup: hypercompetent control-freak Mama is also very clearly vulnerable; she lives in a remote Scottish farmhouse with her husband (who is wheelchair-bound and heavily medicated) and a teenage daughter, who seems insular and juvenile.

When brothers Jack and Matty come hammering on their door in the middle of the night, Mama is reluctant to let them in and only relents at the pleading of her daughter. Once inside, the brothers reveal that they have been involved in a car crash and when Mama admits to being a doctor, she is pressured into conducting makeshift surgery on Jack on the kitchen table.

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Right from the start there are clues that Jack and Matty are not what they seem, and we start to feel we’ve seen this film before.

We haven’t seen this film before.

A man holds on a gun standing over a family sitting on a sofa. Still from Little Bone Lodge.

(Note: hereafter there be spoilers.)

Because just as Jack and Matty have their dark secrets, so do the family they have intruded upon.

Suffice it to say that nothing is what it seems, with any of the main characters in Little Bone Lodge.

Mama is her own very special kind of monster and Jack and Matty increasingly slide from being aggressors to victims. I don’t have to tell you what a powerhouse actress Joely Richardson is (how she doesn’t have a shelf full of awards escapes me!) and she has a field day with this performance; a worthy addition to the pantheon of female film villains.

A girl and a man are sat in a tent inside a room with fairy lights covering it. Still from Little Bone Lodge.

Female monsters are a rarity in fiction and horror is a natural home for them.

I’m talking here not of women who are actual monsters, nor even supernatural, but monstrous because of a twisted perversion of their own human natures.

Think Glenn Close in Fatal Attraction (1987); there’s a reason ‘bunny boiler’ permanently entered the language. Think Linda Fiorentino in The Last Seduction (1994); it’s not a horror but it’s pretty horrifying. Think Mia Goth in Pearl (2022) or Rosamund Pike in Gone Girl (2014).

There are not a lot though, so it’s nice to see a new girl in town.

Take a bow, Mama Lodge!

A woman stands outside holding a gun which is pointed at someone off camera. Still from Little Bone Lodge.

Hoene brings all his story elements together nicely in an unexpected and well-staged climactic showdown, followed by a gloriously dark ending.

Little Bone Lodge currently has a rare 100% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Recommended!

Watch Little Bone Lodge on Now/Sky Cinema

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