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Tuesday, November 17, 2020

Review: The Retreat

Director: Bruce Wemple

Screenplay: Bruce Wemple

Year: 2020

For his bachelor party, Adam goes with his friend Gus to a hike in the mountains. During the hike, both men are followed and attacked by a creature, an evil Wendigo from the Native American mythology. Now both have to fight for survival and their mental sanity, as the line between reality and fantasy becomes more and more blurry. 

At the beginning of both friend's trip, everything seems to be going well, but the fact that it is a bachelor’s party guarantees that someone will do something stupid. This someone ends up being Gus (Grant Schumacher; “Monstrous”), the chosen best man, who brought a hallucinogenic tea for both. Adam (Dylan Grunn; “Lake Artifact”) only takes a zip, but Gus chugs down the whole bottle. From here, we know that things will not go well and that we cannot trust the narrators. 

For most of the movie, we follow Gus, whose best friend's wedding has made him feel displaced, and he even seems to have feelings for his friend. From early on, Gus is under the influence of the hallucinogenic tea, and we are never sure if what happens is real or only takes place in his head. The director and screenwriter Bruce Wemple (“Altered Hours”) takes advantage of the fact that it is not easy to decipher if what's happening is real or not, but this also becomes a pitfall.

During the first and second acts, the movie moves slowly and supposedly linearly, but in the third act, it reclaims a more hastened rhythm and a complete disdain for coherence. With the idea of keeping the story confusing, in the third act, the director jumps around between events and times in a way that can become confusing and somewhat hard to follow while at the same time maintaining the intrigue of knowing what's going on. 

As a horror movie is where “The Retreat” fails miserably. In essence, it is a creature feature and, although we get to see the creature early, it would have been better not to show it. The creature’s design is not appealing at all and is where the movie shows that it was made with a tight budget. None of the rest of the horror elements employed to evoke terror works, not the jump scares, or the creature, or the visuals; nothing.

“The Retreat” is an entertaining thriller that fails at everything that should have pushed it to be a horror movie. The great acting and the superb cinematography is countered by a disappointing creature and too many failed attempts to make it a horror movie. The plot is interesting, but the first and second acts are slow, and the third one can be confusing and is the best the film offers.

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