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the retreat

Movie Reviews

‘The Retreat’ review: Taking on the “bury your gays” trope

Promoting change by being the same.

The Retreat is a slasher that reexamines how queer women are presented in horror. Renee (Tommie-Amber Pirie) and Valerie (Sarah Allen) decide to spend a week with some friends at a remote cabin. A secluded location in the woods is rarely a good idea in film. As the setting suggests, the trip leads to much more than the couple expected.

Writer Alyson Richards and director Pat Mills wisely decided to tell a standard horror story. Along with the out of the way cabin, there is the general store on the way, the cold open that ends with a jump scare, and mysterious shadows in the background. The Retreat is seemingly no different than any other scary movie on the woods.

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That is what makes the film so refreshing. The Retreat will be familiar to longtime horror fans while it presents a new story at the same time. The movie effectively tackles one trope while using others. Renee and Valerie are more interesting than the typical horror movie leads. Their relationship is at a crossroads and the Pirie and Allen make each interaction between the two feel natural. Many slashers have the would-be victims turn on each other. The ones who do not stumble over each other while trying to survive.

Pirie and Allen have great chemistry. Their scenes together make for a stronger story. The Retreat is filled with the requisite tension of the genre, but there is also the sense that Renee and Valerie can survive anything together. As with most films in the genre, the writing can become a little strained at times. The villains are way over the top and the escapes push the lines of credibility. In other words, The Retreat succeeds at being a horror movie.

The Retreat opens in select theaters and comes to VOD May 21

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