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Retreat – 7

Director – Carl Tibbetts

Cast – Cillian Murphy, Jamie Bell, Thandie Newton, Jimmy Yuill

Release Year – 2011

Reviewed by John of the Dead

This is one of the few films I was really excited to see as of late, which is mostly due to its plot but also the fact that is stars one of my favorite actors, Cillian Murphy(28 Days Later, Red Eye, Sunshine). For some reason after reading on this piece I thought of Christopher Smiths’ 2010 epic Triangle, and while the films were not so similar after all the look and feel felt the same – a positive given both ended up with good results. While Retreat was not as horror as I expected it to be it is a solid horror/thriller with an engaging story that keeps us guessing until its satisfying and unnerving climax.

While trying to escape and move on from a personal tragedy Kate(Newton) and Martin(Murphy) find themselves trapped on an isolated island retreat. Panic slowly begins to kick in, but their problems worsen when a stranger washes ashore with a bold story of how a deadly plague is spreading throughout Europe and heading their direction.

People stranded on an island and a deadly plague on it’s way? This storyline had me hooked from the get-go due to these engaging elements, and I am glad that the story did not disappoint. At first the film plays off like a drama, with Kate and Martin’s personal troubles eventually coming to light as the reason behind their trip to the island. Kate is obviously still traumatized over the event and highly unlikable, and we watch as Martin does what he can to ease her woes and aid them in moving on, but his efforts are useless at this point. Of course, none of these things matter when a bloodied soldier shows up near their cabin and eventually “comes to” screaming about how a plague with a 100% kill rate is ravaging Europe and heading to the island. He boards up their cabin at their behest, as neither Kate nor Martin knows if this soldier, Jack(Bell), is telling the truth or up to something sinister. In addition to this their communication services are down, and at this point Jack has taken over the situation and they are staying put in the cabin whether they like it or not. There is plenty of conflict to go around, and it comes in several different forms. Kate is still not over her personal problems, Martin is conflicted over whether or not to believe Jack or stand by his wife who seems to not be all “there” at the moment, and then there is Jack, the mysterious “soldier” who cannot be trusted. Of course, in the end we find out what was really going on in the form of a clever twist that did not come out of left field but I did not see it coming either, ending a great and well-written story.

Carl Tibbetts serves as the film’s director, and I must say that he did a fine job with this being his first directing and writing effort. The locations and sets used were used very well to establish a gloomy atmosphere very reminiscent of the story, and despite the film never rarely leaving the cabin I never once found myself bored over the lack of “movement” in locations. His execution of the conflict was very effective and left me bewildered that this experience came from a first-timer, although the great acting performances from all involved definitely helped sell every for of conflict. This being more of a thriller means there is not much blood or gore, but the kill sequences were worthwhile despite their simple nature, and most importantly they were executed in shocking fashion both by this novice director and by the film’s two novice writers, one of whom also just so happens to be Carl Tibbets.

Overall, Retreat is a great horror/thriller that provides a creative and engaging storyline heavy in conflict and suspense. The film does move slow at times and may not deliver the action some desire, but in the end it makes for a good slow-burning experience that I recommend to those who enjoy such flicks.

Rating: 7/10

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