The Lodge Stars Discuss Developing On-Screen Connections and Its Intense Subject Matter

The new horror film The Lodge faced a daunting task of delivering audiences a terrifying tale that largely focused on three people alone in an isolated house, with the entire effectiveness of the journey relying on the chemistry between these characters to keep audiences engaged. Adding even more pressure to the experience is that actors Jaeden Martell and Lia McHugh, who play siblings in the film, have mysterious motivations that alienate the third character, played by Riley Keough, while also avoiding truly villainous tropes that would see viewers turning on their characters completely. To say that the film's successes and failures rested squarely on their shoulders would only be a slight exaggeration.

The Lodge follows a family who retreat to their remote winter cabin over the holidays. When the father (Richard Armitage) is forced to abruptly depart for work, he leaves his children, Aidan (Martell) and Mia (McHugh) in the care of his new girlfriend, Grace (Keough). Isolated and alone, a blizzard traps them inside the lodge as terrifying events summon specters from Grace’s dark past.

ComicBook.com recently caught up with Martell and McHugh to discuss the filming experience, how they developed their chemistry, and pranks that went too far. The Lodge lands in select theaters on February 7th.

the lodge movie jaeden martell lia mchugh
(Photo: NEON)

ComicBook.com: One of the more effective elements of the film was that, in addition to the wintery landscape looking freezing outside of the house, it looked just as freezing inside of the house. Was the shooting experience uncomfortable?

Jaeden Martell: We shot about an hour or two hours outside of Montreal, and we did shoot in this cabin on a frozen lake and it was really freezing outside. Obviously not in the lodge, we get the heat on, but outside it was actually super, super cold and really snowing, blizzarding, all the time.

Since you play siblings with a deep connection, at times almost appearing to have a secret, unspoken language with one another, your relationship is very important. How did you two develop your relationship ahead of shooting?

Martell: We basically did some activities together with [directors] Veronika [Franz] and Severin [Fiala]. We went ice skating and rock climbing and we just spent a lot of time together before shooting just to get to know each other and become comfortable with each other. Because, like you said, that chemistry was important and it's always hard to fake chemistry. Luckily, we actually liked each other.

And what about Riley? Since your characters in the movie intentionally keep your distance from her character, were you friends once the cameras stopped rolling or did you keep your distance to maintain that relationship, or lack thereof?

Martell: She was great to work with, but we were separated from her while we were bonding those weeks. She was kind of forced to be alone and so we weren't really allowed to spend time with her because of Veronika and Severin. Eventually we got to know her. She's great.

You said that the set itself was much warmer than what it was like outside, but with so many of the scenes being so tense, was it easy to leave that tension behind when filming would wrap for the day or did that dread stick with you?

Lia McHugh: We were always having fun on set. It was never really a lot of tension. Like me, personally, I was laughing in between takes. The whole crew and everyone there ... we had such a great time with everyone.

Even when we did leave the lodge, we were still stuck in the hotel that was literally like The Shining and it was completely empty. It was a golf resort and it was [the middle of winter] so nobody was there. They closed down the kitchen because there weren't enough occupants in the hotel to serve. So they'd be bringing us re-heatable soup and lettuce and try to make us food. But we had a great time still.

Lettuce and soup, that's why people want to get into Hollywood, so they can live the dream of lettuce and soup.

McHugh: But a great time.

You've both starred in your fair share of genre films, has that just been based on coincidence or is there something that appeals to you more about the genre that makes you seek out such projects?

McHugh: It's a lot of coincidence. It's not ever really about the genre. For me, it's about the story and the characters and roles attached to the project and how much I love that, and how much those things are going to be a part of that. I personally love drama, but I think that's one of my strong suits and there's a lot of drama in horror so I will enjoy doing horror.

Martell: I feel the same exact way. More about the story and the characters, if I can relate to that character. Not exactly about the genre.

It sounds like shooting had both its really fun moments and really challenging moments. Are there specific moments or memories that you have of especially challenging or fun sequences to shoot?

McHugh: The scenes on the ice [and ice skating] were a mixture of fun and not fun to do. While [shooting] we were having snowball fights and tackling each other and shoving snow down each others' jackets. We were having a good time but it was still really cold. And there were friends, they're like, "We have to go inside the ranch, warm up," and it was a bit scary, too, because they had a bunch of holes in the ice [for the scene], but that was a mixture of both I'd say.

Martell: Definitely being out in the elements was just difficult. It was fun and, especially, I think, the emotional parts of being in the lodge and feeling such heavy material was tough, in a way. But it's hard to tell without spoiling anything.

Part of the narrative involves your characters intentionally distancing yourself from Grace and messing with her, resulting in some unexpected reactions. Have you two ever pulled a prank that went farther than you were expecting?

Martell: On the set of IT, before anyone knew that it was going to be good, before anything came out but we were filming, we had this one guy who was a fan. He had a fan account and that was new to us. We saw the kid, so we were really interested and intrigued by this person who cares so much about the movie that he hadn't even seen yet.

We actually sent one of the cast members, we sent letters to the cast member, my friend Jeremy [Ray Taylor], and we were like, "Hey, I just wanted to know how you're doing, I'm coming to set tomorrow." And then we left all these notes in his trailer and put him in communication with this fan and scared him into thinking that he was going to come and visit him in his hotel and on set and then it went a little far with it where he was kind of terrified and he went to the production office and reported the person. But eventually, I ruined it by laughing too much and gave it away.

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The Lodge lands in select theaters on February 7th.