Friday, March 30, 2012

Retreat: Movie Review

A tight, gripping indie thriller devolving into blood-soaked conspiracies.

Retreat started out as a tight, minimalistic indie thriller, maintained the well written characters, and then added in some intriguing mind games played out beneath the surface. And then it devolved into a blood-fest of science fiction diseases and government conspiracies. I was riveted for the first hour and twenty minutes and then sat agape in frustration for the last ten minutes.2011

Directed by: Carl Tibbetts

Screenplay by: Janice Hallett and Carl Tibbetts

Starring: Cillian Murphy, Thandie Newton and Jamie Bell

Martin (Cillian Murphy) and Kate (Thandie Newton) are a married couple seeking an isolated retreat. A log house on a remote island which they have been to before but not since their marriage has deteriorated. Kate thinks it is irreparable; Martin thinks he just has to apologize one more time and everything will be perfect. Then an injured soldier arrives at their door and they proceed to take him in.

Before they know it, he has locked them inside the house. Not to kill them, but to save them, or so he says. We’re pretty sure he’s crazy, husband and wife are pretty sure he’s crazy, until sleep-deprived Martin starts falling to his insane argument. Something about there being a disease outside and if you breathe the air around an infected person, you die. Well, you cough up blood and then you die. As I said, we’re pretty sure he’s crazy, and this is just the type of thing that crazy people say.

The fascinating parts of this film involve the soldier convincing Martin and Kate that the threats are real, Martin seeming to believe him, Kate getting angry, and then Martin just wanting to take care of his wife and save their marriage. The majority of this takes place inside the house with only three characters. Let the mind games begin as each character tries to figure out what they want, how to get it, how to do it alone or with somebody else.

When we approached the end, I was playing along with their game, trying to predict each twist and turn that would take us to the satisfying conclusion. I did not guess correctly as I was not predicting the many twists that each character would take with their final, almost final, maybe final, and then their final final dying breath. If that sounds ridiculous, wait until you hear what was really going on. The ending would suggest that Retreat was one of those stupid horror movies built for blood and laughs. This is extremely disappointing because the rest of the movie suggested that it was one of the best indie thrillers around.


The Disappearance of Alice Creed (2009) - The stark and brutal kidnapping of one woman by two men is the paramount of independent filmmaking.

Take Shelter (2011) - Insanity versus reality as the end of the world approaches.

The Entitled (2011) - Rich kids, poor kids, their parents and all their attitudes locked in a house.