Six members of a media company go on a weekend business retreat at an isolated lodge in the woods. When one of the members goes missing, they discover that the lodge was formerly a private mental institution that had been shut down after allegations of devious misconduct. One by one, they fall victim to the dark secrets buried at the lodge.
January 12, 2016
Donny Boaz as Zacry Stabard
Rebecca Summers as Meigan De Foresi
Eli Bildner as
Another micro-flick comes rolling, and the only true question surrounding the picture is, can it exceed expectations and prove more spirited than your typical shoestring affair? Well, the answer to that would have to be both yes and no. Silent Retreat has some good things going for it, but it suffers from extended stretches of downtime that couldn’t stimulate the simplest of minds. However, it does have a couple very entertaining moments, and the overall premise, while not entirely unexplored in film, does work as a fine device to create a few bloody sequences.
The story (I’m going to omit plenty of details, as diving too deep into the story will axe any potential enjoyment or surprise you might find in the film) sees a group of media members, all employees of the same company, head out for a weekend getaway. You know, get to know each other better, mingle, share stories – all that good stuff. But the cabin in which they’re staying has some secrets… or is it the employees themselves that have secrets, brought suddenly bubbling to the surface by their new surroundings? You’ll learn the truth for yourself (this is the true angle I can’t bring myself to spoil) as the final act gets into full swing. The first two acts are admittedly a bit slow, which could turn viewers off, but I recommend you stick it out for a few strong payoffs.
The idea of exploring each character and fleshing them out in a manner that makes the viewer familiar with these personalities is a fine concept. The problem is, it doesn’t always work too well. The pacing is just a bit too tough to really sink your teeth into, which has a tendency to leave us indifferent to a few personalities. And, the characters that we do get to know fairly well aren’t necessarily all that likable. There’s a manipulative bitch along for the ride, an overzealous expedition leader, a jealous boyfriend, a wise ass who provides awesome comedic relief and a dude who clearly has some problems upstairs. The remaining characters fall a little bit flat, and feel like fodder for a doomed fate.
But, to the performers’ credit, there are a couple of strong showings. Donny Boaz portrays Zacry Stabard, the main character in the film. His work in juggling emotions is admirable, even if he can be just a tad stiff in spots. Rebecca Summers tackles the role of the good girl, and she does a fine job, in fact, she’s one of the more impressive performers in the bunch. But the show stealers have to be Eli Bildner and Devon Ogden, who play Tedi and Lira, respectively. Tedi is a wisecracking fellow who throws a few quality zingers in our direction and Lira is pitch-perfect as the super bitch audiences are dying to see meet a grim demise. As a whole, there really aren’t too many weaknesses in the ensemble, and the few cardboard cutouts that are featured are overlookable. It is, for the most part a respectable group, no doubt about it.
While the big twist didn’t do too much for me personally (anyone who’s seen a horror movie will likely see the shocker coming a mile off), I can’t help but applaud writer/director Ace Jordan for giving us a couple gnarly death scenes. In truth, the bear trap sequence is one of the cooler kills I’ve seen in a while. It’s not remarkably innovative, as we’ve seen similar fatalities in plenty of other films, but the buildup to this shot, and the way Jordan lines the sequence up is great – and surprising.
It’s hard to call Silent Retreat a gory film. It’s hard to call Silent Retreat a frightening film. It’s hard to call Silent Retreat an amazing film. All that said, it’s a decent production and there is some entertainment value here. The cast and crew clearly make a very real effort at creating a slice of celluloid that will be remembered in the future. I don’t know that this is a picture that will steal many hearts or earn any cult following, but it’s far from a complete waste of time. The picture looks pretty good, and it makes for a solid watch, even if only one time.
Does Silent Retreat get a recommendation from HFN? Sure it does. It may not be a feature you’ll rush to purchase, but you won’t feel cheated in investing 90 minutes in the flick. Give it a go, it just might be your bag!