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DVD Review: Retreat (2011)

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Pulling off a movie with only several actors isn’t an easy feat overall. The 1989 thriller Dead Calm managed to pull it off (though there were a number of minor roles in the feature as well), while Guy Ritchie’s god-awful remake Swept Away left audiences yearning for a psycho killer to show up. Former film editor Carl Tibbetts makes his debut as a filmmaker with Retreat: a somewhat nifty tale of suspense, which — much like the aforementioned Dead Calm — finds a couple (Thandie Newton and Cillian Murphy) away on an island for a retreat from the world, only to be menaced by a seemingly-psychopathic individual.

Trying to erase the painful memory of a miscarriage, Kate and Martin (Thandie and Cillian, respectively) travel to the remote Scottish isle of Blackholme Island in order to get away from it all and, hopefully, rekindle their relationship that has since gone south. A day or two into the vacation, they realize that perhaps they, too, should have traveled in a southerly direction, as an army private (Jamie Bell) shows up at their isolated dwelling injured. Taking the young soldier in, they soon learn the man may be a total loon: he starts to seal up the doors and windows, claiming that the rest of the world has been overcome by a deadly pandemic.

Though determined to escape the confines of their accidental guest-turned-captor, Martin proves to be a total wuss when it comes to manning up, while Kate is too busy indulging in her recent case of self-pity to urge him to grow a pair. Retreat’s three main actors (there’s a minor part by Jimmy Yuill as a boatman) deliver decent enough performances, and, while the story itself isn’t bad (a bit of Dead Calm meets Straw Dogs by way of 28 Days Later, etc.), the characters themselves are pretty unlikable — and don’t exactly inspire you to root for the members of either side.

Essentially, Retreat is a decent, low-budget suspense flick that should warrant a viewing from thrill-seekers and curious moviegoers. Tibbetts shows quite a bit of promise here, and I look forward to seeing what else he has up his sleeve. In the meantime, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment releases Retreat to DVD and Video On Demand with a fine transfer and soundtrack, as well as a few special features. There’s a making-of featurette, a gallery, and a theatrical trailer that will undoubtedly spoil any suspense the movie has for potential viewers — so don’t view it before the movie if you’re at all interested in seeing it.

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About Luigi Bastardo

Luigi Bastardo is the disgruntled alter-ego of a thirtysomething lad from Northern California who has watched so many weird movies since the tender age of 3 that a conventional life is out of the question. He currently lives in Chico, CA with four cats named Groucho, Harpo, Chico, and Margaret. Seriously.