The Lodge

In movies, stepmothers always seem to have a rough go at joining a new family. They tend to be the villains of a story, arbiters of cruelty and unwanted change, a character perhaps best personified by Disney’s “Cinderella.” Should the poor soul actually want to connect with her new family, she has the impossible task of facing many emotions and prejudices against her. She will likely already be seen as the enemy by default.  Although not officially a stepmother yet, Grace (Riley Keough) wants to take care of those hard feelings against her as soon as possible. She volunteers to spend more time with her boyfriend, Richard (Richard Armitage), and his children (Lia McHugh and Jaeden Martell), who are still mourning their mother’s (Alicia Silverstone, in an extremely brief appearance) suicide months ago, over the holidays in a remote cabin. Predictably, they reject her, but when their father has to leave them in her care, the brother and sister team decides to show her how they really feel about Grace’s connection to their mom’s death and her checkered past in a cult. Unfortunately, Grace loses her grip on reality and falls into an ending that seems too cliche, too simple for what the movie looked like it was set to deliver.  Advertisement The kids are fiercely protective of their mom’s legacy, and most of the movie sides with their point-of-view. For Grace, their mother’s presence haunts the lodge both in spirit and through Catholic iconography, perhaps driving her to feel guilty about ruining the parents’ marriage and as the children see it, leading to her suicide. There’s also the added torture of all those crosses that bring back awful memories from Grace's cult days.  Directors Veronika Franz and Severin Fiala teamed up with co-writer Sergio Casci for this suspense thriller. And like Franz and Fiala’s previous film, “Goodnight Mommy,” “The Lodge” plays on our fears of losing our connection with our parents. In that earlier movie, two brothers wonder if the woman recovering under badges over extensive plastic surgery is really their mother when she begins to behave erratically. Eventually, their paranoia intensifies into a destructive crescendo. In “The Lodge,” the children are predisposed to mistrust their dad’s new girlfriend, and they similarly torment her to a point of no return. So while “The Lodge”' has some new features added in for scares, like Grace’s cult background and her mental illness, it essentially feels like the English language remake of their own foreign language horror film.  There is much to admire in “The Lodge,” especially when it comes to Keough’s performance. Her stoic face is too difficult for the children or audience to properly get a sense of her intentions. Does she really want the chance to bond with them or is there something more nefarious behind her muted expressions? But as the twists and turns begin to unravel, the niceties wear off, and Keough brings an appropriate amount of unpredictability to the part.  The design of the namesake lodge is another one of the movie’s strengths. It would be easy to point to the rustic homeliness of “Hereditary” as inspiration, but Franz and Fiala already had their eyes on using architecture to create an early sense of unease. In “Goodnight Mommy,” the home has a contemporary modern look with clean lines, minimalist designs and many windows. It’s a home that feels too big for its young protagonists, almost like a monochromatic labyrinth that deceptively keeps them trapped inside. Conversely, the setting of “The Lodge” is claustrophobic, and the expansive outdoors seals them in with a snow storm. Through the lens of cinematographer Thimios Bakatakis, the wood looks a little too dark, the angles seem too sharp, and the light outside more bitterly cold than normal. There’s something off about this place—as if none of the characters should be there at all. No matter how brightly the fireplace burns, the lodge never warms up.  Overall, Franz and Fiala perhaps play things a little too safe with “The Lodge,” not straying too far from a formula they know has already worked before. “The Lodge” is more disturbing than scary, with its eerie ambiance and chilling plot handling most of the scares. The film’s terrors come not from an outside or supernatural force but the cruelty that even children can carry.

TVLine Items: Emily Blunt on Amazon, GoT Vet Vs. Kevin Hart and More

Emily Blunt is making her streaming series debut: Amazon Prime Video has picked up the U.S. rights to The English, a Western starring the Quiet Place and Mary Poppins Returns actress, our sister site Variety reports. The multi-part BBC drama hails from writer-director Hugo Blick, who was also behind the Maggie Gyllenhaal-led British spy thriller The Honorable Woman, which aired stateside on SundanceTV. Plot details for The English are not currently available. Blunt’s rare TV credits include the 2005 miniseries Empire and a voice guest spot on The Simpsons. Ready for more of today’s newsy nuggets? Well… * Nathalie Emmanuel (Game of Thrones) will star opposite Kevin Hart and John Travolta in Quibi’s comedic action series Die Hart, playing a rival student to Hart at the greatest action star school, our sister site Deadline reports. * Jan Luis Castellanos (Marvel’s Runaways) has joined 13 Reasons Why‘s fourth and final season in the series-regular role of Diego Torres, the football team’s leader, who is struggling to understand the loss of one of their own, Deadline reports. * Hunter King (Life in Pieces) will star in ABC’s comedic Western pilot Prospect, about an idealistic young woman (King) who moves to the frontier to be a schoolteacher and learns that her students are rowdy ranch hands, not children, per Deadline. * The IFC comedy Year of the Rabbit has been renewed for a six-episode second season ahead of its series premiere on Wednesday, Feb. 19 at 10:30/9:30c. * Bravo has released a trailer for Top Chef All Stars LA, premiering Thursday, March 19 at 10 pm, with 15 fan-favorite cheftestants from previous seasons returning for another shot at the big prize: Which of today’s TVLine Items pique your interest?

Scarface Remake Loses Diego Luna as the Lead

Universal Pictures has been trying to get a remake of the much-beloved gangster epic Scarface off the ground for a very long time now, almost a decade, in fact. One thing that seemed to be locked in was Rogue One: A Star Wars Story star Diego Luna leading the movie as the titular scar-faced man. However, it seems the actor is no longer attached to the project, as he himself has now confirmed after being asked about whether he was still planning on taking on the role."No, no I'm not."Simple and to the point with no room for interpretation is...


The Princess Diaries Spin-Off Movie Rumored to Be Happening at Disney+

We may soon enough be checking back in with the Kingdom of Genovia, as The Princess Diaries reportedly has a spin-off movie in the works at Disney+. According to a new report from The Illuminerdi, the spin-off is currently in development from Martin Chase Productions - the production company of Debra Martin Chase, who produced the original Princess Diaries movies. Lorna Osunsanmi (All American) is also reported to be on board to pen the sequel, but as with the aforementioned information, none of this has yet been officially confirmed by Disney.Per the report, a basic plot synopsis for the The Princess Diaries 3 has also been revealed. Calling back to the original movie, the spin-off is said to follow a biracial teenage girl who one day learns she is Mia's half-sister and moves to the European Kingdom of Genovia to live with her royal family. Going this route creatively is likely a way to keep the focus of the story primarily on a teenage central character, as the original movie came out nearly two full decades ago. This will also open the door for returning characters from the previous movies to appear, notably the Genovia royal family.Directed by Garry Marshall, The Princess Diaries was released in 2001. It starred Anne Hathaway as Mia Thermopolis, a San Francisco teenager who suddenly becomes a princess when she learns she is heir to the throne of a European kingdom. Dame Julie Andrews also starred as Mia's mother Clarisse Renaldi, the reigning Queen of Genovia. Both actresses would return for the 2004 sequel The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement, which co-starred Chris Pine and concluded with Clarisse stepping down so Mia can officially become the new ruler of the kingdom.RELATED: Princess Diaries 3 to Reunite Anne Hathaway & Director Garry MarshallAs of now, Hathaway and Andrews have yet to officially sign on for the rumored Disney+ project, but both actresses have made it clear they'd be open to revisiting the franchise. Early last year, Hathaway claimed there was a script in the works for a third Princess Diaries movie and said she wanted to do it. Andrews would also publicly express similar interests in reviving the franchise several months later by telling Entertainment Tonight she would love to reprise the role of Clarisse, so as long as Hathaway wanted her to. Hopefully, both will be returning for the new movie along with Pine as Lord Nicholas Devereaux.Because Disney has yet to comment on these reports, it remains unclear when we can expect to see the new spin-off of The Princess Diaries make its way to Disney+. In the meantime, several other franchise revivals are also in the works for the House of Mouse's streaming services, which includes a sequel series to The Mighty Ducks with Emilio Estevez reprising the role of Coach Gordon Bombay. It's been known that Disney has been looking towards other beloved franchises from the past to help pad the service's content, so it wouldn't be shocking at all to see The Princess Diaries revisited next. This news was first reported by The Illuminerdi. Topics: The Princess Diaries 3, Disney Plus, Streaming Pretty brains, lightning fingers. Find me at @HorrorGeekLife.

History TV Show Ratings (updated 2/05/20)

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Sonic the Hedgehog

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