LGBT Horror ‘The Retreat’: Decent Slasher With a Hazy Message

Sommerleigh Pollonais, Horror Head Writer

Plot: A lesbian couple with a rocky relationship goes to a pre-wedding retreat and ends up fighting for their lives when they are targeted by a pair of bigoted militant serial killers.

Review: This was a strange one for me. As a straight-up slasher, The Retreat isn’t bad. Actresses Tommie-Amber Pirie and Sarah Allen play our leads and couple Valerie and Rene. Rene has a hard time defining their relationship as seen when she struggles to tell a stranger they met at a gas station that Valerie is her girlfriend. So they decide to take a trip to a cabin in the woods (hey, that sounds familiar) to work on their relationship and hang out with their friends Connor and Scott, who also happen to be gay. But when they get there Connor and Scott are missing and before they know it they too are being hunted by a couple of militant bigots.

Umm, dude. I’m not one to tell you how to go about your serial killing, but, well, you’re holding that axe the wrong way

You’re probably wondering what so strange about this movie. It seems like a straightforward slasher and, if that’s what you’re thinking, you’re not wrong. The classic backwoods setting, the locals who hate anything and anyone different, and, of course, our damsels in distress. Except the killers here specifically hate gay people (as far as I know, they don’t expand on this) and the heroes and victims are all gay.

So what’s the issue? Well, there is no issue and THAT’S the issue! Or at least it was for me. Why make homosexuality the target of the killers’ rage if the only reason shown is the killers are bigots? Maybe the message is simply awful people don’t need a reason to be awful (and I can’t argue with that) but when you have acting talents like Aaron Ashmore (Killjoys, Veronica Mars) and Rossif Sutherland (The Expanse, Reign) you don’t just relegate them to one-note bad guys. The whole thing is so paper thin, I honestly don’t know what the message is supposed to be (gay people should avoid small towns?) and whatever they are trying to say here is surface level at best.

She was bi-curious. Now she’s bi-furious! What? Scott Pilgrim vs the World? Anyone? Anyone?

So let’s put that aside for now. Looking at The Retreat as a by-the-numbers slasher, it’s actually decent. The lead actresses are engaging and likeable. You want to see them make it to the end and I love how they were written as smart and capable but still human. By that I mean no one here is Van Damme in disguise or some elite ex-military so-and-so. They’re two women in a terrifying situation who are believably scared but also smart enough to know when to run and hide and when to fight. I wish I could say the same about the villains but we know nothing about them other than they enjoy killing gay people. Jason Voorhees had more depth than these two. Speaking of kills, there aren’t a lot of them and most of them are off-screen, but what they do show makes great use of practical effects, which I’m always on board for.

So there you have it. As a slasher The Retreat has solid acting, a decent pace and a couple of cool kills here and there. As a slasher with something to say? Unless the message is don’t rent cabins in the middle of nowhere, I’m as clueless as the next guy.

Sommer’s Score: 5 out of 10

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2755F829-2EEC-4A68-B6F7-F963F48C9D92 Sommerleigh of the House Pollonais. First of Her Name. Sushi Lover, Queen of Horror Movies, Comic Books and Binge Watching Netflix. Mother of two beautiful black cats named Vader and Kylo. I think eating Popcorn at the movies should be mandatory, PS4 makes the best games ever, and I’ll be talking about movies until the zombie apocalypse comes.

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