The Retreat marks an important entry into the genre scene with its representation of queer scene without subjecting either of its lead characters to being a perpetrator, hellbent on revenge. Instead it flips this archaic notion by having the LGBTQi community the subject of eradication by a group of people who wish to rid them from society by means of gruesome torture. There are times I was guilty of second guessing the film’s direction expecting it to sink to predictability by having a twist in one of our lead characters that would reveal them to be the instrument of torment. Thankfully however, Director Pat Mills along with writer Alyson Richards play it straight down the line with the focus on the couples’ relationship and the test that they must endure in order to survive, united or doomed to failure.
The film however does fall foul of tripping over the usual tropes in its representation of our protagonist couple, where one has commitment issues and the other is hoping for more from her partner to cement their future together. Renee (Tammie-Amber Pirie) has some depth to her character as the more reserved partner, potentially harbouring some old wounds or trauma. As the story pans out there is intrigue to be found in her past with a hardened past that could also be her strength if she is able to overcome her demons. Valerie (Sarah Allen) however is a little two-dimensional at times with her optimistic outlook on life, which is set to be quashed if she is to endure the ordeal.
On a weekend getaway, Renee and Valerie set off for the idyllic retreat, only to find this bnb style hideaway is nothing but a trap to lure non-heterosexual people into a lair of uncertain return. The tormentors then inflict all kinds of pain and punishment on the victims while filming it for their own sadistic means.
The Retreat treads lightly in an all-too-familiar terrain, but is bold enough to place a queer couple at the helm of this survival torture horror.
The narrative is enjoyable enough, despite being content with a middle of the road affair.
It would have been interesting to go deeper with the characters and provide a more meaningful journey for them to take on their road of endurance.
- Saul Muerte