Little Bone Lodge (2023)

Directed by Matthias Hoene
Written by Neil Linpow

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.(IMDB)

Little Bone Lodge does not mess about.

We barely have time for introductions to Mama (Joely Richardson) Maisy (Sadie Soverall) and wheelchair-bound Pa (Roger Ajogbe) in their remote farmhouse, before there is an unexpected knock on the door in the middle of a terrible and foreboding storm. Barely 10 minutes in and you are already suspicious of Mama, the set-up they have on the farm, and Matty (Harry Cadby) a troubled young man standing in the rain on the doorstep while his unconcious brother Jack (Neil Linpow) lies bleeding on the porch after their car ran off the road in the storm.

Tonight isn’t going to go the way anyone expected.

Everyone here is hiding something, or having something hidden from them. Nothing is what it seems and everything is at stake. Mama and Pa’s relationship isn’t what you might think it is and why is Mama’s workshop off limits to her daughter? Something isn’t quite right with Maisy, while Matty struggles with his mental health and brother Jack is a ball of pent-up anger, waiting to explode. Throw in an unlucky copper (Clifford Samuel) sniffing around the farmhouse at the wrong time and violence leads to desperation, once safe secrets unravelling before everyone’s eyes.

And, hang on, are those CCTV cameras in the ceiling?

As Mama and Jack venture out in the storm to supposedly retrieve medication from the wrecked car, Maisy takes a shine to Matty, until she hears a radio news broadcast that identifies him as a wanted man. At the same time, Mama discovers Jack is lying and the car wreck isn’t quite what it seems.

It kinda just gets messier from there.

While I wouldn’t say LBL’s story is particularly complex and the general direction of the story is signposted fairly early on, the route to it is paved with enough twists and turns to keep you invested in the characters. There were still a few surprises tucked away in the darker recesses of the Little Bone Lodge and Mama’s workshop and no one here is particularly sympathetic, so all bets are off as to who is going to survive the evening!

My one big complaint with the film was the sound. I am hopeful that it was the screener I had access to, but the dialogue was very difficult to hear in many places, being muffled or just too quiet in the mix to hear over the background noise/score. There were auto-generated subtitles, but I think they might have been watching a different film at times! However, I heard and saw enough to figure out what was going on, so this was a mild frustration and nowhere near a “deal-breaker” for Little Bone Lodge – just a warning for anyone watching that it may be worth sticking the subtitles on from the start.

Otherwise I really enjoyed LBL. It has a definite “low-budget” feel about it, but the performances, writing and direction are all great and the sum of its parts add up to a solid experience over the perfect 93 minute run time. Joely Richardson is always good value and turns from mother-hen to mother-bear with surprising ease as the role demands. Sadie Soverall is brilliant as sheltered teenager Maisy, both vulnerable and unquestionably loyal when Mama needs her, well, at least at first… Neil Linpow and harry Cadby work really well together as the dodgy brothers, their very different characters making their relationship all the more intense and believeable. As the story unfolds and their back story is revealed, decisions and actions taken by Matty and Jack become clearer and the ending all the more emotional for them.

I am not sure I would go as high as the 8.3 on IMDB, I would be closer to a 7, but this is still a strong recommendation. Without giving too much away, the ending of LBL leaves things open for a potential sequel (but is still satisfying in its own right) and I would definitely be up for finding out what happens next.

So, if you fancy a dark thriller with horror-undertones, give Little Bone Lodge a go. Mama Knows Best!

Signature Entertainment presents Little Bone Lodge on Digital Platforms 22nd May

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