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Interview: Jaeden Martell and Lia McHugh of 'The Lodge'

By: Kayla Caldwell

As soon as I heard about the movie THE LODGE, I immediately became desperate to see it. I didn’t know really anything about the story, but just that the film was directed by Severin Fiala and Veronica Franz, who were responsible for chilling 2014 horror, Goodnight Mommy.

That being said, I should have expected a dark disturbing movie that would stick in my head long after I left the theater. However, I was woefully unprepared for what would take place in THE LODGE. Don’t get me wrong - I’m happy I was! It was a wild ride of a film, mesmerizing and traumatizing at the same time. (You can check out my full review here.)

Needless to say, after watching it [twice!], I knew I needed to talk to the stars about how this amazing film was made. Thankfully, I got the chance to chat with Jaeden Martell, who plays Aidan, and Lia McHugh, who plays Mia. They told me how you prepare for such a dark role, what the most difficult scene to shoot was, and a few fun facts about the directors, who, turns out, have a really silly side.

*Caution: Spoilers ahead - if you have not yet seen THE LODGE, you should close this window now. (But bookmark it, so you can come back and read it after you've seen the movie!)

First off, I just need to talk about the scene where Mia and Aidan were digging through Grace’s (Riley Keough) things. It’s kind of a major moment, because you realize, man, it really was the kids behind everything.

Jaeden Martell: Is that when you realized that they did that?

Well, not exactly - you see things that make you suspicious, but then you think, that can’t be it. They’re just kids.

Martell: Yeah, I think that’s what made this movie special, is that there’s no serious twist. The whole movie is a slow burn, so the twist is kind of slowly introduced until you [as the viewer] figure it out.

With these characters, I feel like they are just kids, and the reason that they do it [trick Grace] is because of the grief they feel for their mother. And they kind of blame this one person. And they take that out on her.

There’s no bad guy or hero, it’s just these kids who feel a lot of pain, and need to take it out on this person. They go a little far with it, obviously, but you still see them question their own actions. It gives the characters in the story more humanity.

Though there’s tension with Grace, your characters both have the sweetest bond. Could you talk about what it was like working together?

Lia McHugh: I had a great time filming with Jaeden. He was really easy to connect with, and really fun to hang out with. It was great to get to know him, and it was amazing to act with him.

Martell: We did a lot of bonding exercises, activities with Veronica and Severin. We went ice skating, rock climbing. We played tennis. We did all sorts of things.

The movie is pretty dark. How did you get into character for something so heavy?

McHugh: Well, being in the place we were, in Montreal, in the middle of nowhere, we were sort of isolated, in a way. So we were always pondering on our characters, and really in that - we were always really in that headspace. So, I would say it was a lot easier with the cold and the isolated place we were in.

One scene I want to talk about in particular is when Aidan tells Grace that they can’t die, because they are already dead. Then he pretends to hang himself. Could you tell me about filming that?

Martell: Basically, before that scene, Veronica and Severin took me up in the attic, and they said, “Scream at us at the top of your lungs. Just start screaming.”

And I screamed, and it wasn’t that loud. And then they started to scream, and then Veronica just let out the biggest scream imaginable.

And then I just started screaming. We just - they were just trying to get me comfortable with pushing my boundaries and getting me out of my comfort zone. But it was super intense in the moment.

Have you seen Veronika and Severin’s last film, Goodnight Mommy?

McHugh: We both really loved it.

Martell: Yeah, I watched it before doing it [THE LODGE], and I was so excited to work with them. I was interested to see how it would translate in an English movie, and also with this story. Obviously, they have some similar tones and themes. So I was really excited to be a part of something that could potentially be similar to what they achieved with that film.

Well you succeeded, for sure. Now, because of how dark this movie is, was there any hesitation getting involved - especially because you both are pretty young?

Martell: No, not necessarily. I don’t know if there’s any hesitation. I feel like these are the most interesting roles to do, where you’re pushed beyond your limits and you have to learn and evolve as an actor.

McHugh: It really challenges you.

Martell: I think that made it even more appealing to do this.

McHugh: Yeah, and especially how much I loved the script, just from the start. And then watched Goodnight Mommy and fell in love with the way the directors … just how good Goodnight Mommy was.

Was there a scene that was particularly difficult or demanding to shoot?

McHugh: Maybe the scene in the attic, where you know, we were really terrified of her, and I swatted a burning doll. Things like that. I think we were just going through such a range of emotions. We were feeling guilty, and upset, and scared, and Mia, you know, has this big attachment to her doll.

She really sees her mom in that doll, and she’s projecting that onto it. So when Grace starts to burn the doll, it really affects her in a really severe way, more than it should.

What was it like working with a legend like Alicia Silverstone?

McHugh: It’s really funny, actually, ‘cause I worked with her in a TV show called American Woman. She was my mom in that. I came to set, and I had no idea she was playing my mom. And I was like, “Oh my gosh, this is so cool!”

It was great. We had a really good chemistry, ‘cause she played my mom before and we worked together. She was great to work with.

Martell: I feel the same way. She was awesome.

Can you tell us anything about working with Severin Fiala and Veronica Franz - any fun anecdotes or BTS stories?

McHugh: Yeah, it’s actually funny, they - Severin’s an acrobat. He can put his legs behind his back and do backflips, and … it’s really funny. And they speak German. So in between takes when they’re discussing, they discuss in German, and they’re basically yelling at each other in German.

We’re like, “Oh my gosh, was it not good enough? Are they stressed out? What’s going on?” And then they’ll turn to us and be like, “Yeah, it’s fine. We can move on.” It’s really funny.

They loved when we improvised. They wanted most of the movie to be improv. They would just give us the gist of the scene, and some ideas of what to say, and then they’d tell us to improv most of it.

Martell: Yeah, they definitely gave us a lot of freedom. It’s easy when they have already created such a detailed and layered character for us to - I mean, all we have to do is just add onto that. Because they already created these people that there’s not much to figure out, background-wise. They did such a beautiful job of creating those characters. So, it’s a good mix of freedom and guidelines to work with.

Did you grow up reading scary stories - have you always been interested in that sort of thing?

Martell: No. I’m a scaredy cat.

That’s funny because you have this great horror presence, with the new IT films, Midnight Special, Knives Out, and now THE LODGE.

Martell: Yeah, I guess, but not intentionally. Now I definitely appreciate them. After seeing the process - being in a horror film makes it less scary, when you understand what goes into it. Now I do appreciate them, and I’m trying to watch more classic horror films.

McHugh: I’ve gotten more into them in the past couple of years. I used to not like them at all, but now I really do.

Check out our review of THE LODGE here, and go see the beautiful and terrifying film yourself - in theaters now!


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