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The Retreat Reviews

the retreat movie review

While having gay leads is a refreshing inclusion in a genre that has historically excised or executed them, Mills’ movie is a toothless response to the ‘bury your gays’ trope.

Full Review | Jan 8, 2024

the retreat movie review

Even though The Retreat is completely predictable in how the story unfolds, it's a horror movie that's very effective in creating suspense and conveying 'race against time' terror.

Full Review | Oct 28, 2021

Alyson Richards' screenplay is tonally all over the place, making for a movie that seems to eventually make a joke of content with which it's just genuinely upset us.

Full Review | Jun 14, 2021

the retreat movie review

Understanding the characters and setting would make the disruption hit us harder. Instead there's a disconnect... But that doesn't mean the movie isn't still entertaining.

Full Review | Jun 2, 2021

Director Pat Mills presents the material in a lean, economical and swiftly-paced manner, the lead actresses are engaging and the film does not skimp on the gore. What it does lack, however, is any sense of originality or purpose regarding its existence.

Full Review | Jun 1, 2021

Mills has a grasp of survival horror pacing that builds up a few good thrills and chills... Yet The Retreat always manages to take a step back from its innovative or even solid moments.

Full Review | Original Score: 2.5/5 | Jun 1, 2021

the retreat movie review

A purely functional Trip-from-Hell thriller.

Full Review | May 31, 2021

the retreat movie review

"The Retreat" is efficient and angry with an explosive screenplay from Alyson Richards.

Full Review | Original Score: 3/4 | May 27, 2021

Pirie - whom you may know from The Go-Getters, Michael: Every Day or Bitten - is a formidable presence in the role: she rarely gets projects that offer her this level of intensity, but she always delivers when she does.

Full Review | Original Score: 4/5 | May 26, 2021

the retreat movie review

The Retreat is the embodiment of so many anxieties us queers feel when we're watching backwoods horror films, let alone when actually being in the middle of the woods.

Full Review | Original Score: 4.5/5 | May 26, 2021

the retreat movie review

Most of the movie is the standard running, hiding and fighting, albeit competently delivered, with some decent suspense in the violence-filled finale.

Full Review | Original Score: B- | May 25, 2021

the retreat movie review

The Retreat is a well-made and amusing survivalist slasher film that gets the job done with suitably violent and gory aplomb.

Full Review | Original Score: 3/4 | May 24, 2021

The movie has its politics in good order, but its horror and overall production qualities fall short of its ambitions.

Full Review | Original Score: C+ | May 21, 2021

Richards has crafted an original story with relatively few moving parts, and a satisfyingly frightening premise. You might run from it if you're squeamish about violence, but otherwise it's definitely worth chasing.

Full Review | Original Score: 3.5/5 | May 21, 2021

the retreat movie review

A frightening premise and two solid lead performances add up to a tense and gruesome lesbian-themed thriller.

Full Review | Original Score: 3/5 | May 21, 2021

the retreat movie review

The Retreat is a bloody fun slasher, but shows the harm of selective representation.

the retreat movie review

The Retreat is a too-familiar revenge film that is well shot and acted. It also features some solid action in the last act. [Sadly] it's a politicized genre film that doesn't actually seem interested in exploring or unpacking its premise.

Although its targeting of gay characters feels exploitative, The Retreat lives up to expectations within the horror/revenge thriller genre.

Full Review | May 21, 2021

Everything that it does do is done well enough.

Full Review | Original Score: 3/5 | May 20, 2021

Richards' script and the film's stars (particularly Pirie) allow for compelling explorations of Valerie and Renee, but "The Retreat" is less adept at navigating the much wider, weirder possibilities it begins to tease out.

Full Review | Original Score: C+ | May 20, 2021

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‘The Retreat’ Review: A Gory Lesbian Slasher, Subversive in Ways You Might Not Expect

Kate erbland, editorial director.

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The broad strokes are familiar: a couple dealing with emotional strife goes away for a weekend, lands at a rustic/terrifying cabin, and finds themselves at the mercy of murderous freaks. The basic plot of Pat Mills’ “The Retreat” is so  basic that it helped frame the tongue-in-cheek “Cabin in the Woods,” which itself unpacked and poked fun at all manner of horror tropes. Mills’ film, which screenwriter Alyson Richards loosely based on her own cabin-in-the-woods experience (no horror but plenty of actual fear, as she shared in a writer’s statement), attempts to subvert that setup by centering it around a lesbian couple.

Seeing a pair of women (Tommie-Amber Pirie and Sarah Allen) occupy roles usually owned by straight couples, and bolstered by a plot that hinges on their sexuality, is its own kind of subversion. However, the real twist of “The Retreat” goes beyond that. What if, “The Retreat” wonders, they weren’t just a lesbian couple but a pair of women hellbent on survival and not making the kinds of mistakes so many Final Girls have made before? “The Retreat” is concerned with their sexuality, but what works about this low-key mix of “Get Out” and “The Hunt” is its interest in using its alleged subversions to more fully explore its leading ladies as people. 

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That’s not to say that it always works. Richards’ script is still prone to predictabilities, from the dynamic between organized Valerie (Allen) and messy Renee (Pirie) to the white trash hicks that begin to menace them (by the third time we see a local gas station attendant’s giant gut hanging out of his too-small tee shirt, we get it). But it’s also funny and self-reflexive, and Richards and Mills don’t waste too much time getting to its gory and gruesome point.

Valerie and Renee’s relationship is still new-ish, but it’s plagued by some lingering questions and frictions (namely that uptight Valerie, the kind of gal who doesn’t change out of her business suit for a weekend road trip, wants to define their bond, something that freaks out the freewheeling Renee). This weekend retreat (ostensibly to help plan the wedding of a pair of gay pals we meet in the film’s opening sequence) couldn’t come at a better time, and Valerie is delighted by the “amazing gay B&B owners” who allegedly own the place, all shiny happy smiles on the joint’s appealing website.

As the women set out for the Canadian countryside, Mills gamely threads the needle between what’s idyllic and what’s foreboding, what’s a bump in the road and what might be a warning, what’s just country life and what’s something far worse. He also teases out one of the film’s more intriguing ideas (and, unfortunately, ideas not satisfyingly interrogated): What the hell are most people doing on the Internet, really ? Are the “amazing” owners of the retreat real, or a front that someone tossed up to lure people like Valerie and Renee?

That’s an idea that will both bolster and diminish the film’s rip-roaring slasher action. Mills doesn’t dally around getting down to business once Valerie and Renee hit the cabin and find things amiss (the film is a slim 82 minutes). Part of that speed is thanks to the duo’s excellent radar for bad stuff (refreshing!), though much of that zip is owed to the film’s inability to dig deeper into its intriguing mythology, meted out in little bits here and there. Soon, the women are at the mercy of a pack of creepy hunters who have their own plan for how to best serve the predominantly gay visitors who visit the cabin, and while it hints at something much bigger going on, “The Retreat” abandons that for its own brand of gory revenge.

Richards’ script and the film’s stars (particularly Pirie) allow for compelling explorations of Valerie and Renee, but “The Retreat” is less adept at navigating the much wider, weirder possibilities it begins to tease out. Instead, it fixates on awkward misdirects, like Renee’s ill-conceived belief that another woman she spies close to the cabin might help her, or the choice to obscure Valerie’s fate before ingloriously revealing it (this, we promise, is not a spoiler). There’s something much bigger afoot, something truly subversive and new, but “The Retreat” resists digging into that, instead leaning on its (admittedly, badass) leading ladies and their inspiring ability to kick butt. We love to see it, but we’d really love to see more.

Quiver Distribution will release “The Retreat” on digital and VOD on Friday, May 21.

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the retreat movie review

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Movies, tv & music • independent film criticism • soundtrack guides • forming the future • est. 2014, review: pat mills’ ‘the retreat’.

The Retreat Movie Film

The “bury your gays” trope is an ugly one that knocks the wind out of any LGBTQ representation by dispatching its marginalized characters almost as soon as it introduces them. It’s a trope that has endured in the horror genre like the killer that just won’t stay gone. The Retreat counterpunches the trope within the structure of backwoods survival horror, dropping its lesbian leads into a forced good vs. evil battle which ensues over the course of one deadly night.

Screenwriter Alyson Richards and director Pat Mills tell a story that shares a kinship with Jeremy Saulnier’s nail-biting thriller Green Room , whose subjects also walk into a lion’s den and must claw their way out, pursued by the sort of assailants that don’t respond to an open dialogue. Unlike the 2015 film, however, the women of The Retreat do not witness a murder nor are they chased by neo-Nazi skinheads . Instead, they fall into a trap set up by the skinheads’ camo-wearing cousins. Renee (Tommie-Amber Pirie) and Valerie (Sarah Allen) arrive at an Airbnb rental for a getaway, only to find that the couple they were supposed to meet there has vanished. There aren’t many red flags, and the very moment they realize that they are being watched, the couple snatch up their picnic gear and jog towards the cabin to leave — alas, the car is gone and now they are unwilling subjects in a most dangerous game.

The Retreat Movie Film

It takes an average amount of time to get to the thrills, and Richards uses the first act for some character development before the steel bear traps and shotguns show up. Renee is a poor communicator, but she’s present for her girlfriend when needed. The emphasis on their connection issues gives the impression that they’ll need to communicate when fighting for their life, but they don’t, at least no more than any other tormented pair might. The “battle” is largely comprised of one partner recklessly putting themselves in danger, and the other saving their skin at the last second (twice!). The tail end of that arc is flat for both characters, but their respective actors put on harrowing, distinctive performances throughout that, regardless, make the ride worthwhile. Pirie and Allen counterbalance each other with ease. Pirie’s intensity stays appropriate to the plot at hand , from tight-lipped discomfort at relationship talk to willing herself into cocking a shotgun with the feigned fake-it-till-you-make-it force of someone thrust into a confrontation they did not ask for. Allen displays a subtle comfort with discomfort that shines through in her daintier role — when she is called upon to pick up a weapon, Allen’s doe-eyed gaze turns to adrenaline-tinged ice with reasonable authenticity . The pair are at their best when they share the frame, and so when the latter half of the story keeps them separated and hiding behind corners and trees, the emotional hold wavers.

The villains suffer from the same heavy-handedness as those in Deliverance , a classic comeuppance picture that is deservedly imitated. Beyond the Bond henchman dialogue (“You won’t shoot me, you don’t have the guts”), the wild-eyed knuckle-dragging baddies seem to be in comically absurd contrast with the premise that the film builds: that these are a sinister people who hide their homophobia until no one else is watching — that is, no one else who might disagree with them. James (Aaron Ashmore) and Gavin (Rossif Sutherland), along with Gavin’s unnerving Karen avatar Layna (Celina Sinden), are not only targeting gay couples, but they are also livestreaming the whole hunting party on some Parler-adjacent website for the sort of folks who might be entertained by such things. This is where the ultraviolence can get dicey. Revenge films such as these punish their protagonists for leaving their element and entering a rural space, just as the men of Deliverance do on their rafting trip, just as Jennifer Hills does on her rural writing retreat in I Spit on Your Grave . Renee and Valerie have the added, primary sin of existing while gay, and the trauma visited upon them makes that clear. James, Gavin and Layna all make the usual quips that LGBT+ citizens endure all the time: crude threats of conversion, slurs thrown at multiple aspects of their identity (not just orientation, but gender as well) and prolonged assault. The trio takes one doomed gay character and strings them up in a barn before murdering them, using imagery that, for an entire generation of viewers, can invoke that of the hate crimes that still make headlines today. Mills wisely avoids putting the gay death onscreen, though every scream and slash is mixed into the audio as loudly as possible. Shocking ultraviolence is to be expected for this kind of picture, just as it is with the rape-revenge subgenre and, like the subgenre, its success hinges upon the turnabout violence and extrajudicial justice the victims get to employ later on. The turnabout does arrive, but when it does, the hunters-cum-hunted get off easy. Revenge kills are relatively quick and suffering-free compared to the laborious torment that went down an hour prior. Thus, there is little catharsis to be found in The Retreat, and with survival horror and revenge horror, catharsis is the name of the game. Without it, there is just the violence.

The Retreat Movie Film

On a technical level, The Retreat hits its marks. Cinematographer David Shuurmann (who also directed photography for the thrilling lesbian survival horror What Keeps You Alive ) finds the ominous in the tree line, lensing to emphasize the woods’ depth and shooting the women at odds with nature every chance he gets. The baddies’ Airbnb is lived-in, neutrally toned but filled with red flags like an aggressive replica painting of a hunting party of dogs descending upon a buck in the woods. In fact, there are hunting motifs throughout the runtime, from prize totems and trophies strung about the area to a Chekov’s Gun in the form of a deer blind. Richards’ screenplay clocks in at a snappy 82 minutes, and the pacing is at a capable trot.  

The Retreat is a film that would have made waves a decade ago on the lesbian representation alone. While having gay leads is a refreshing inclusion in a genre that has historically excised or executed them, Mills’ movie is a toothless response to the “bury your gays” trope. The Retreat works best as a survival horror alone, where the pacing is crisp, and the performances are dire.

Anya Stanley ( @BookishPlinko ) is a horror-centric columnist and film critic. Her work can be seen in Fangoria Magazine, Rue Morgue, Dread Central and Birth.Movies.Death as well as her website anya writes.com .

Categories: 2020s , 2021 Film Reviews , 2021 Horror Reviews , Featured , Horror , Thriller

Tagged as: Anya Stanley , Horror , Pat Mills , The Retreat , Thriller

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The Retreat [2021] – Movie Review (4/5)

Posted by Karina "ScreamQueen" Adelgaard | May 17, 2021 | 4 minutes

The Retreat [2021] – Movie Review (4/5)

THE RETREAT is a survival horror movie with an LGBT twist in a surprising way. This one was so much better than I dared hope. The story is interesting (and far too realistic) with wonderful performances by all the actors. Read our full The Retreat movie review here!

THE RETREAT is an LGBT survival horror movie that has a tight story and a runtime of just 82 minutes. While I did expect this movie to be good (based on the trailer), I never expected it to be this brutal and good.

Basically, I can only say that this movie was much better than I had ever dared hope. Mostly, it creates a cool little universe with a badass survival plot. And, oh yeah, there will be blood, quite a few bodies, and interesting characters played by wonderful actors.

Continue reading our The Retreat movie review below.

A different kind of LGBT survival horror movie

If the whole “survival LGBT”-theme sound familiar, it may be because you’ve watched Colin Minihan’s What Keeps You Alive  (2018). Also, if you haven’t then you  really  should. It’s a total guilty pleasure kind of survival horror movie with a brilliantly f*cked-up villain.

You might like Our review of  What Keeps You Alive  survival horror movie by Colin Minihan >

As was the case with What Keeps You Alive , this movie avoids all the worst LGBT tropes. Mostly because the characters are more than just their sexuality. However, we do get actors who clearly have no problem kissing someone of the same sex.

Now, you might think this is always a given because two ladies kissing by default is just hot. However, as a gay woman, I can assure you that it’s obvious when the actors are doing “friendly” kissing rather than the steamy ones. Always such a letdown because it ruins the entire illusion of them actually being a couple.

Also, I want to mention that this survival horror movie doesn’t “just” have gay main characters for diversity points. The LGBT element of the story is key  to the survival story since the villains are actively seeking out and hunting down gay people.

The Retreat [2021] – Horror Review

Several familiar faces

Since  The Retreat  is a Canadian production, we do get to see quite a few Canadian actors who you’ll probably recognize from other movies or TV series. For me, Aaron Ashmore is certainly a  very  familiar face. Most recently from the Netflix horror-fantasy series Locke & Key  (read our season 1 review here) .

Also in a small – but key – role, we see Munro Chambers, who I’ve pretty much adored in everything so far. You’ll recognize him if you’ve watched the 2015 cult movie Turbo Kid .  Of the movies we’ve reviewed here on Heaven of Horror, Munro Chambers has been in Knuckleball  (2018) and  Harpoon  (2019) and loved him in both. With  The Retreat , he’s become a true favorite of mine!

I wasn’t actually that familiar with the two women in the lead roles even though they have quite impressive IMDb resumes. Tommie-Amber Pirie ( Killjoys , Bitten ) plays the tough and independent Renee with Sarah Allen ( The Expanse , Being Human ) playing the happy and understanding (to a point) Valerie. Both are awesome and kick-ass in their own way in this movie!

Watch  The Retreat  in theaters or On-Demand

Pat Mills is the director of  The Retreat  and it comes as absolutely no surprise that he has worked on several LGBT movies and series in the past. He knows how to tell these stories the right way. I mean, he even directed a wonderful gay Christmas movie on Lifetime this past holiday season. With this movie, it’s obvious that Pat Mills also has a  great  take on the horror genre!

The writer is Alyson Richards who has worked with Pat Mills before. In fact, they made a short film together back in 2001, so it’s a pretty solid filmmaker duo. She also produced his award-winning comedy  Don’t Talk to Irene  (2017) . More importantly, in terms of the genre productions we cover, she also co-wrote the screenplay for the horror-mystery The Sublet  from 2015.

I did actually have fairly high hopes for The Retreat , and yet, I can only say that this movie was even better than I had ever dared hope. The story is interesting (and far too realistic) with wonderful performances by all the actors. So, my point is simply that you need to check out The Retreat because this movie does everything right. Yes, including the survival horror story!

THE RETREAT is out in theaters, as well as on Digital HD and VOD, from May 21, 2021.

Director: Pat Mills Writer: Alyson Richards Stars: Sarah Allen, Tommie-Amber Pirie, Aaron Ashmore, Rossif Sutherland, Celina Sinden, Chad Connell, Munro Chambers, Patrick Garrow, Gavin Fox, Joey Coleman

Renee (Tommie-Amber Pirie) and Valerie (Sarah Allen), a couple at a crossroad in their relationship, leave the city to spend the weekend at a remote cabin with friends but when they arrive, their friends are nowhere to be found. As they stumble through their relationship woes, they discover they are being hunted by a group of militant extremists who are determined to exterminate them.

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About The Author

Karina "ScreamQueen" Adelgaard

Karina "ScreamQueen" Adelgaard

I write reviews and recaps on Heaven of Horror. And yes, it does happen that I find myself screaming, when watching a good horror movie. I love psychological horror, survival horror and kick-ass women. Also, I have a huge soft spot for a good horror-comedy. Oh yeah, and I absolutely HATE when animals are harmed in movies, so I will immediately think less of any movie, where animals are harmed for entertainment (even if the animals are just really good actors). Fortunately, horror doesn't use this nearly as much as comedy. And people assume horror lovers are the messed up ones. Go figure!

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The Retreat (2021) Movie Review: A Purely Functional Trip-from-Hell Thriller

the retreat movie review

When reading the synopsis to The Retreat , it reads like almost any other horror film about a trip gone wrong. Protagonists go on a trip to escape their idyllic suburban or city life only for their getaway to be disrupted by some kind of sinister force. Only by putting openly queer protagonists at the center, The Retreat puts a different spin on that weary story line. It’s so commonplace for the horror genre to portray queerness at a subtextual level that whenever there’s a film that presents it as text rather than subtext, it’s instantly laudable. Plus, given the horror genre’s history of portraying queer women as villains with psychosexual motivations , The Retreat is even more applaudable as it breaks that trend by making them the heroes this time around. 

That being said, The Retreat also is worthy of praise for simply being an effective thriller that runs with its simple, chilly premise. When the film first opens with a gay couple arriving at the cabin retreat that they’re hosting for our main protagonists, within the first few minutes, they’re invaded by the central masked antagonists. Once the film cuts away during that attack, leaving the couple’s fate ambiguous, the tone remains established. We’re then introduced to our main heroines, Renee (Tommie-Amber Pirie) and Valerie (Sarah Allen), and observe their buoyant chemistry as they go on their trip to the titular retreat and as the film leads up to the inevitable terror that awaits them. 

Once that terror does commence and Renee and Valerie end up fighting for their lives against the masked assailants who turn out to be murderous homophobes, the lead up to that doom ends up being more paralyzing due to the intricacies in Pat Mills’ direction. Tricks like a wide crane shot of the forest where the retreat is that’s used to hammer down Renee and Valerie’s physical isolation. Also, a deer head that Renee and Valerie find on their stroll through the forest hints that something is amiss. It’s like how the stick figures hanging on the trees in the Black Hills forest from The Blair Witch Project act as a sign of the lost filmmakers being watched. 

The whole concept of not being alone even when you feel like you are when on the outskirts of society creates such an unnerving feeling. Similarly, the villains manage to elicit fear even if we know little about them other than the fact that they’re militant extremists who’re raging homophobes. Because they’re so underdeveloped, it’ll be an easy detriment to some. But because there are countless real-life people committing homophobic hate crimes all over the world, the proximity these antagonists have to those committing such heinous acts is enough to make them dangerously alarming. Obviously, the Freddy Kruegers and the Chuckys of the silver screen still give us nightmares. Yet, boogeymen like them only exist in our nightmares. 

By depicting the true-life boogeyman known as homophobia, The Retreat is able to go beyond its simple trip-from-Hell premise. The trip-from-Hell story mechanics still remain the same: Protagonists go on a trip to get away from it all before bad things suddenly start to happen. The short run time of around 82 minutes also forces The Retreat to serve as a purely functioning thriller. Yet, in the hands of director Pat Mills and writer Alyson Richards, who present queer visibility even as the picture depicts the horrific hatred and violence that people in the LGBTQ+ community endure, The Retreat is able to distinguish itself from other films within the same realm.

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Matthew St.Clair

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The Retreat

With long and often stirring shots of the mountainous wild, The Retreat - now available to stream thanks to Uncork’d Entertainment - scores BIG with the terror as something waits out in the darkness.  We are warned early.  We are chilled by the cold.  Even the art on the wall sends shivers down the spine, but nothing truly prepares us for the journey that this thriller has in store for us.

And that, my friends, is a good thing as The Retreat builds its suspense gradually with the build-up to a hike in the dark up to the summit of a mountain.  Adam ( Dylan Grunn ) and Gus ( Grant Schumacher )  Without warning, the journey turns treacherous as a frostbitten full moon welcomes the daylight and then rises again.  

The Retreat

The Retreat begins its Wendigo descent with the graphic art on the wall in the cabin where Adam, who is going to be marrying Amy ( Ariella Mastroianni ) soon, a bachelor party is being hosted.  But the real party - at least for these two friends who are at odds with each other - is up the mountain . . . where something awaits them.

Because, after an initial attack by the Wendigo, it is up to Gus to fight for his life, while keeping his grip on reality, as he continues to be tormented - both physically and psychologically - by the evil that inhabits this wilderness.  

Clever with its use of flashbacks and absolutely frightening in its use of the creature, The Retreat is a practical effects-laden horror entry, as close encounters in the snow leave bloody trails and a whole lot of unanswered questions.  The Retreat is not for jump-scare junkies. Nor is this is not mindless horror.  What we have throughout this horror film is a well thought out narrative that scores major points with its use of a monster that has been criminally underused by cinema.

There’s something waiting in the mountains this November!  The Retreat is now available on DVD and on streaming platforms from Uncork’d Entertainment .

4/5 stars

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The Retreat

MPAA Rating: Unrated. Runtime: 88 mins Director : Bruce Wemple Writer: Bruce Wemple Cast: Grant Schumacher, Dylan Grunn, Chris Cimperman Genre : Horror Tagline: There's somethign waiting in the mountains. Memorable Movie Quote: "That is the Windigo. It's sort of an urban legend around here." Distributor: Uncork'd Entertainment Official Site: Release Date: On Demand and DVD November 10 DVD/Blu-ray Release Date: On Demand and DVD November 10 Synopsis : Set in the Adirondack High Peaks of Upstate New York, two best friends. Gus and Adam, set out for awinter backpacking trip. After a horrifying encounter with a monster, Gus finds himself alone and lost.Now, he must now fight for his life while keeping his grip on reality as he’s tormented both physicallyand psychologically by the evil Native American legend, The Wendigo.

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The Retreat review – almost good

The Retreat review - almost good

I like a good monster movie. Great, I thought, when I was offered the chance to review The Retreat : I like a bit of man-versus-nature, blood in the trees and all that, and I’ve never seen a wendigo before. Having seen the film, I’m left still wondering whether Gus and Adam, the best buds it featured, have ever seen one.

Adam (Dylan Grunn) is due to marry soon, and despairing at the news that he’ll then move house to somewhere near his fiancé’s parents, Gus (Grant Schumacher) offers to do whatever Adam dreams of for his stag celebration. Thus, the pair head to the Adirondack High Peaks for a few days hiking in the snow, Adam relishing the outdoors and Gus humoring him in the hope that he’ll discover some second thoughts. They get settled in a holiday cabin, the host tells tales about the local legends, and one of the other residents lay out some temptation in the form of hippy hallucinogenic “tea”. After conquering their first of a planned series of peaks, Adam and Gus indulge a little in the tea… so when Gus is disturbed by a monster in the night and wakes up to find his friend dead, well is there really a wendigo in the woods, is he imagining everything? And will either of them get home in one piece?

Writer/director Bruce Wemple has delivered a neat little film which is more a doomed buddy movie and psychological horror than it is a monster flick, like The Ritual , in that sense. But that’s where the similarity ends. The Retreat raises the monster legend right from the start, and the (possibly three) wendigos do look pretty damned creepy, especially when they’re on the move. It’s smaller scale than The Ritual , too, and this adds to the sense of isolation Gus feels when things all go wrong: with no-one else around, except possibly monsters, panic is going to feed his imagination on top of any drug he’s consumed.

Once the young stags have taken said drug, everything gets a bit twisted: if Gus can’t rely on his senses, the audience can’t rely on Gus. This makes The Retreat a little confusing at times, but more intriguing. The delivery of the various zigzags the script takes is overall pretty satisfying… until the final image, which – honestly – belonged in a drunken Halloween party.

I liked Nate VanDeusen’s screeching soundtrack, adored some of the snow-covered landscapes, and I don’t regret watching the film at all. But if you can, switch off The Retreat ten seconds before the end.

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Article by Alix Turner

Alix joined Ready Steady Cut back in 2017, bringing their love for horror movies and nasty gory films. Unsurprisingly, they are Rotten Tomatoes Approved, bringing vast experience in film critiquing. You will likely see Alix enjoying a bloody horror movie or attending a genre festival.

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the retreat movie review

The Retreat

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Tommie-Amber Pirie (Renee) Sarah Allen (Valerie) Rossif Sutherland (Gavin) Aaron Ashmore (James) Celina Sinden (Layna) Munro Chambers (Scott) Chad Connell (Connor) Patrick Garrow (Huck) Joey Coleman (Jed) Gavin Fox (Victor)

A lesbian couple with a rocky relationship go to a pre-wedding retreat and end up fighting for their lives when a group of militant serial killers tries to murder them.

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Film review: the retreat (2020).

Damien Riley 12/29/2020 Film Reviews

the retreat movie review

A man finds himself alone and lost after a horrifying encounter with a monster during a backpacking trip into the Adirondack High Peaks. Now, he must fight for his life, and sanity, as he battles the evil Native American legend, The Wendigo.

The concept of a Wendigo waiting in the forest for two unsuspecting climbers works on every level for me. Do we get that here? Not as much as you would hope. I’m not sure how the title even portrays the film correctly. Instead of a straight up creature from the forest flick, we get a lot of relationship nonsense from a reckless, needy, best man who just can’t let his buddy go. Sound like a fun horror movie to you? What’s worse is this film could have been stunning! Who hasn’t freaked out at the prospect of something in the forest stalking you? This is the value of Lore but the film deviates so far away from that lore, it fails to make much sense.

the retreat movie review

Bruce Wemple is our director. He’s an accomplished student of film and he gained accolades with his debut film “The Tomorrow Paradox.” I’ll be watching to see what he does for his next piece. He’s given us amazing technical things like cinematography here but the plot is disastrous. The two friends and the fiancee are the only people really in the movie. The marrying guy looks just like Matthew Fox from “Lost” days! The protagonist is just a frightfully bad actor who doesn’t hold anything back, if you can imagine it. The three top billed actors are: Grant Schumacher, Dylan Grunn, and Chris Cimperman. None are A-listers. The irony here though is that they tried to make the friend more scary than the Wendigo. That is the fatal mistake here methinks.

2 Guys are going hiking but it isn’t just that, they are extreme dudes and they want to scale the “backside of the mountain because they want to get away from right angles of the city.” Extreme sports folks may relate here, I didn’t. In other words, these dudes are serious and they don’t play around like simple vacation hikers. On the way into the danger zone they stay in a cabin home with a bearded guy who feeds them tons of beers while talking about the pitfalls of climbing out there in nature. There are photos of a creepy creature on the walls that he claims were the property of his ex wife. This creature is the mythic “Wendigo” of legend. That’s where you know you’re in for something terrifying. Well, at least one hopes so at that point.

the retreat movie review

Shit does get real very soon after that. The 2 friends decide to take Peyote and all hell breaks loose. The annoying, needy friend starts seeing things. This could have been a kick-ass film with slash after slash in the outdoors but alas, that doesn’t happen. There is a creature but it’s hardly mythic. It looks a bit like an Orc from “The Lord of the Rings.” Don’t get me wrong, he’s scary as hell but we can’t get a radar fix where he’s from or even how he fits into the lore alluded to.

The monster appears to have powers of transcending time and space. This is shown the way the film flashes back and forth through flashbacks. We get the backstory on the fiancee’s girlfriend and how she guardedly doesn’t trust the best man. This is an age old trope for buddy films when one gets married. It’s well traveled ground that I really didn’t sign up for. If I wanted a ROM COM buddy flick I would rent one. In this case, it’s a warbled barrage of changing times through images and scenes. I didn’t know what was happening during these flashbacks. S, as I learned in college about stream-of-consciousness novels, I sat patiently trying to piece it all together. I didn’t really have high hopes about halfway through.

the retreat movie review

In conclusion for The Retreat (2020) , What I wanted to see was a monster movie with thrills and suspense out in the extreme snow. What I got instead was the inner workings of an untalented actor overacting and believing he was “dark.” Nowhere is this more obvious than the final scene. It’s a cute ending but who needs a cute ending when you’ve been dragged through a bait-and-switch for an hour and a half in the snow. When it makes sense, there isn’t much scary. When it’s blurry is when it’s at its best. I only like 20% of the film when the Wendigo was being addressed or brought out. 80% of the film is reckless geek writing and I didn’t get the vibe. I’ve said many times that a director should focus on one thing, not several. That should lead to a better horror. I think this film would have been more palatable as a ROM COM. Because of that, I give it a 2/10.

Tags 2020 Ariella Mastroianni Bruce Wemple Chris Cimperman Dylan Grunn Grant Schumacher Peter Stray Rick Montgomery Jr. The Retreat

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Still of Cillian Murphy as Martin in Retreat.

Retreat – review

H ere is a workmanlike suspense thriller directed and co-written by newcomer Carl Tibbetts. Cillian Murphy and Thandie Newton play an anxious couple making a tense return to an utterly secluded island; this is to be a "retreat" for them, a place to heal their emotional wounds. The CB radio which is their only means of contacting the mainland goes dead, and then they encounter a sinister stranger played by Jamie Bell, who has a terrifying story to tell. Is it the truth? Or is it a manipulative lie? This is a neat, well-crafted three-hander, making good use of its location; it really is a meaty role for Bell, who lets rip in what might be his most eye-catching part since Billy Elliot.

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Lost in Tomorrow Image

Lost in Tomorrow

By Bradley Gibson | May 29, 2024

Director-writer Kellen Gibbs offers a fantasy in Lost In Tomorrow to answer the question: “ What if you were someone else for one day? ” Tween girl Harper (Charity Rose) is struggling at school. She’s been in a few fights and doesn’t seem to be fitting in socially despite being a bright, outgoing child. Her retreat from the world is to draw portrait sketches in her room, which seems to satisfy her desire to escape. After a dramatic episode where she lashes out after being bullied, she is thrown out of school for attacking the boy who made fun of her. Her mother (Julia Parker) insists that violence is never the right approach. Her father (Richard Neil) tries to console her, and Harper says, fatefully, that she wishes she was someone else.

The next morning, her wish is granted when she wakes up in the body of an adult man. This begins a series of days with Harper waking each morning in a different body, a different life, and possibly a different universe/timeline altogether. We join Harper on this magical mystery tour as she must cope with different lives every day. She experiences firsthand what it is to be an adult, a different gender, an elderly person, a parent, a married partner, a person of color, and many other situations from various walks of life. She literally walks in the shoes of other people.

the retreat movie review

“…a series of days with Harper waking each morning into a different body…”

She now only wishes to make it back home to her own life and her own parents to continue growing up as Harper. Will she make it back? If she does get back to herself, how will these experiences inform her life going forward? Above all, other questions are whether Harper is losing her sense of identity, blending into the other minds she inhabits. Is this a dream? Is she dreaming about them, or are they dreaming about her?

We live with Harper as she begins her body-hopping. Each person she becomes or meets shows her a different slice of life. Threaded through each jump is her fear of being inadequate and unloved. There is also the notion that this all may be an elaborate dream. Several discussions take place in which Harper mentions dreams, including wondering whether dying in a dream results in death in the real world. Her mother insists that dreams are not real.

Lost in Tomorrow (2024)

Directed and Written: Kellen Gibbs

Starring: Charity Rose, Arthur Roberts, Jane Edwina Seymour, Zachary Ray Sherman, etc.

Movie score: 7/10

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"…her wish is granted when she wakes up in the body of an adult man..."

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the retreat movie review

In Retreat — Maisam Ali [Cannes ’24 Review]

In Retreat , the debut feature from Iranian-born Ladhaki director Maisam Ali, is the sort of film one hates to be negative about. It’s made on a small budget, and bears enough idiosyncrasies to indicate that it’s a very personal project. But one thing about first films is that it can take some time for an artist to articulate their worldview in a manner that others can access. While In Retreat is a 75-minute film about a relatively aimless wanderer, it feels very confined, even hermetic. It’s unclear what Ali wants an audience to take away from In Retreat , other than perhaps admiring its frequently lovely cinematography.

The film follows an unnamed man (Harish Khanna) who has returned to his hometown after a long but unspecified absence. He’s back because his brother has just passed away, and he clearly feels some imperative to see his family and pay his respects. But the man goes anywhere and everywhere aside from his nephew’s home, where what’s left of his family resides. A study of an avoidant personality, In Retreat is itself a deeply avoidant film, lighting upon various potential themes and ideas without ever really taking them on. Instead, we see the man eat a bowl of soup in a restaurant at closing time, get picked up by some party guys who take him to a ceremony where he’s absolutely unwelcome, and end up on the periphery of a local skirmish involving rival groups of men whose grievance, like so much in the film, remains ambiguous.

Ali seems to be taking his cues from the so-called “slow cinema” movement, and his nightbound, mostly static cinematography bears some resemblance to the films of Nuri Bilge Ceylan, an auteur known for skirting around matters of plot. But even by those standards, In Retreat is aimless and soporific, giving the viewer so little to hold onto that the experience becomes one of impatience and frustration. In theory, Ali offers an objective correlative to his protagonist’s experience, asking us to drift around the edges of a prodigal son’s return and its ensuing emotional fallout. But for a film like In Retreat to connect, the unrelated business in the margins — and In Retreat is nothing but margins — needs to be illuminating, or at least informative. The most intriguing parts of the film are recurring images of a young girl making a pencil drawing of the town. But these brief scenes float alongside everything else, offering neither a metacommentary on the action nor a cognitive map for the viewer. Ali demonstrates that he has a basic command of cinematic form, and perhaps in the future he’ll place those skills in the service of more robust, fully formed ideas

Published as part of  Cannes Film Festival 2024 — Dispatch 2 .
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  • Festival Coverage

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    Rated 2/5 Stars • Rated 2 out of 5 stars 01/20/23 Full Review Audience Member The critics are patently incorrect in their assessment of this movie as a wilderness horror treat. If you're new to ...

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    Rated: 3.5/5 Nov 12, 2020 Full Review Niall Browne Movies in Focus The Retreat is a film which takes-on the Native American Wendigo myth and delivers a truly fascinating piece of genre cinema.

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    The Retreat is a well-made and amusing survivalist slasher film that gets the job done with suitably violent and gory aplomb. Full Review | Original Score: 3/4 | May 24, 2021. The movie has its ...

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    While having gay leads is a refreshing inclusion in a genre that has historically excised or executed them, Mills' movie is a toothless response to the "bury your gays" trope. The Retreat works best as a survival horror alone, where the pacing is crisp, and the performances are dire. Anya Stanley ( @BookishPlinko) is a horror-centric ...

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    The story is interesting (and far too realistic) with wonderful performances by all the actors. Read our full The Retreat movie review here! THE RETREAT is an LGBT survival horror movie that has a tight story and a runtime of just 82 minutes. While I did expect this movie to be good (based on the trailer), I never expected it to be this brutal ...

  7. The Retreat (2021) Movie Review: A Purely Functional Trip-from-Hell

    The trip-from-Hell story mechanics still remain the same: Protagonists go on a trip to get away from it all before bad things suddenly start to happen. The short run time of around 82 minutes also forces The Retreat to serve as a purely functioning thriller. Yet, in the hands of director Pat Mills and writer Alyson Richards, who present queer ...

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    The Retreat is a 2021 Canadian slasher film, directed by Pat Mills.The film stars Tommie-Amber Pirie and Sarah Allen as Renee and Valerie, a lesbian couple who book a weekend trip to a cabin in the woods, only to be abducted and tortured by a mysterious figure who livestreams gruesome killings of gay people on the Internet for profit.. The film was directly inspired by a desire to subvert the ...

  9. The Retreat

    Movie review of The Retreat, released by Uncork'd Entertainment. Clever with its use of flashbacks and absolutely frightening in its use of the creature, The Retreat is a practical effects-laden horror entry, as close encounters in the snow leave bloody trails and a whole lot of unanswered questions.

  10. The Retreat review

    Writer/director Bruce Wemple has delivered a neat little film which is more a doomed buddy movie and psychological horror than it is a monster flick, like The Ritual, in that sense. But that's where the similarity ends. The Retreat raises the monster legend right from the start, and the (possibly three) wendigos do look pretty damned creepy ...

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    Film Movie Reviews The Retreat — 2021. The Retreat. 2021. 1h 22m. Unrated. ... A lesbian couple with a rocky relationship go to a pre-wedding retreat and end up fighting for their lives when a ...

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    The Retreat either needed to be more sensational and bombastic (let these women really cut loose) or it needed to say something more than "country people hate gays". At best, The Retreat is a too-familiar revenge film that is well shot and acted. It also features some solid action in the last act. At worst, it's a politicized genre film ...

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    The Retreat: Directed by Pat Mills. With Tommie-Amber Pirie, Sarah Allen, Rossif Sutherland, Aaron Ashmore. A lesbian couple with a rocky relationship go to a pre-wedding retreat and end up fighting for their lives when a group of militant serial killers tries to murder them.

  14. The Retreat

    The Retreat - Metacritic. Summary Renee and Valerie, a couple at a cross roads in their relationship, leave the city to spend the week at a remote cabin with friends. But when they arrive, their friends are nowhere to be found. As they stumble through their relationship woes, they discover they are being hunted by a group of militant extremists ...

  15. Film Review: The Retreat (2020)

    Film Review: The Retreat (2020) Damien Riley 12/29/2020 Film Reviews. Rate This Movie. SYNOPSIS: A man finds himself alone and lost after a horrifying encounter with a monster during a backpacking trip into the Adirondack High Peaks. Now, he must fight for his life, and sanity, as he battles the evil Native American legend, The Wendigo.

  16. [Review] THE RETREAT is A Bitterly Cold And Masterful Tale of Wendigo

    At first, you might feel misled by the basic plot of The Retreat; you're obviously expecting a legitimate monster movie about the Wendigo. What you actually get is more along the lines of a psychological thriller whose madness is deepened by vague and familiar horror elements. As disappointing as that sounds, Wemple exerts himself when ...

  17. The Retreat (2021)

    5/10. A rather generic foray into the woods... paul_haakonsen 23 May 2021. When I sat down to watch this 2021 thriller/horror movie titled "The Retreat" from writer Alyson Richards and director Pat Mills, I must admit that my expectations weren't all that high, as the movie had managed to acquire a rating of 3.6 stars here on IMDb.

  18. Retreat (film)

    Retreat is a 2011 British horror-thriller film and the directorial debut of former film editor Carl Tibbets. The film stars Cillian Murphy, Jamie Bell, and Thandiwe Newton as three people isolated from the rest of the world on a remote island. Two of them are told they are survivors of a fatal airborne disease that is sweeping over the entire world. However, their induced isolation may be the ...

  19. Retreat

    Retreat - review. A neat, tense thriller from a first time director that provides a decent role for Jamie Bell. H ere is a workmanlike suspense thriller directed and co-written by newcomer Carl ...

  20. Watch The Retreat

    The Retreat. Set in the Adirondack High Peaks of Upstate New York, two best friends. Gus and Adam, set out for a winter backpacking trip. After a horrifying encounter with a monster, Gus finds himself alone and lost. Now, he must now fight for his life while keeping his grip on reality as he's tormented both physically and psychologically by ...

  21. The Retreat (2020 film)

    The Retreat is a 2020 American horror film written and directed by Bruce Wemple. Set in the Adirondack High Peaks of upstate New York, the film stars Grant Schumacher as Gus, a man who, during a winter backpacking trip with his friend Adam (Dylan Grunn), finds himself tormented by a wendigo.. The Retreat was released on DVD and video-on-demand (VOD) on November 10, 2020.

  22. The Retreat (2020)

    The Retreat: Directed by Bruce Wemple. With Grant Schumacher, Dylan Grunn, Chris Cimperman, Rick Montgomery Jr.. A man finds himself alone and lost after a horrifying encounter with a monster during a backpacking trip into the Adirondack High Peaks. Now, he must fight for his life, and sanity, as he battles the evil Native American legend, The Wendigo.

  23. The Retreat (2021)

    The Retreat (2021) 2022 • 81 minutes. 2.5 ... play_arrowTrailer. infoWatch in a web browser or on supported devices Learn More. About this movie. arrow_forward. Renee and Valerie leave the city to spend the weekend at a remote cabin in the woods. ... Ratings and reviews aren't verified info_outline. Ratings and reviews aren't verified ...

  24. Lost in Tomorrow Featured, Reviews Film Threat

    Movie score: 7/10. "…her wish is granted when she wakes up in the body of an adult man..." Director-writer Kellen Gibbs offers a fantasy in Lost In Tomorrow to answer the question: "What if you were someone else for one day?". Tween girl Harper (Charity Rose) is struggling at school.

  25. In Retreat

    While In Retreat is a 75-minute film about a relatively aimless wanderer, it feels very confined, even hermetic. It's unclear what Ali wants an audience to take away from In Retreat, other than perhaps admiring its frequently lovely cinematography. The film follows an unnamed man (Harish Khanna) who has returned to his hometown after a long ...

  26. Ignite Youth Podcast

    IMDb is the world's most popular and authoritative source for movie, TV and celebrity content. Find ratings and reviews for the newest movie and TV shows. Get personalized recommendations, and learn where to watch across hundreds of streaming providers.