Silent Retreat (2013)
Starring: Chelsea Jenish, Sophia Banzhaf, Robert Nolan
Writers: Corey Brown & Tricia Lee
Director: Tricia Lee
Synopsis (From Facebook Page):
In this quiet horror film, Janey is sent to a silent retreat in the middle of the woods for rehabilitation, only to discover that the men who run it are after more than her voice, and aren’t afraid to show her what lurks beyond the trees…
Silent Retreat gets off to a really promising start- a bunch of girls in a woodsy rehabilitation center ran by some weirdo and his two boys. Each girl has their own tiny cabin to sleep in. There’s no talking, reading, writing, listening to music, watching movies, internet… no nothing. If these rules are broken, there are repercussions implemented with a 2-strike rule. If you talk, you can forget about eating dinner. 2Nd strike is a bit more severe. There’s also something really mysterious going on at this retreat, and there are no means of escape, for something unknown prowls the woods at night. Sounds awesome, right? With a cast of troubled female characters, this could have played out as like a women-in-prison flick with a twist. Unfortunately, it doesn’t. And while it starts quite promising, about a half an hour in I was just no longer seeing eye to eye with it.
My favorite types of horror films are slow burners; the kind that tease and threaten you with insane suspense throughout, but hold the big reveal until the last act. Silent Retreat attempts this formula, only the big reveal isn’t very big. Waiting well over an hour to see what lurks beyond the trees is fine, as long as once it is revealed, it’s TRULY revealed. Doesn’t quite go that way, here. Now, eventually, we do get to the bottom of what the horror is… but there shouldn’t be some double unveiling, especially since it’s admittedly cool. But it’s not cool enough to save feeling cheated.
Many of the characters don’t have a name. It kind of fits because only the few of them are sympathetic. Given the premise (and once you learn more about the story), it really should be easy to feel awful for these women, but there’s just not enough known about them. Chelsea Jenish and Sofia Banzhaf play the two most well constructed personalities, Janey and Alexis. There’s a few decent moments with them together, but it’s a bit overdramatic. Robert Nolan plays the Doctor of the rehabilitation center, and he gives the best performance in the film. Doctor is actually a great antagonist- a character with no positive redeeming value whatsoever. Nolan is really intriguing to watch. I feel like they could have went even further with him, though.
There is some gore involved and it looks good. Though, much like the woodsy lurker, it doesn’t come until really late. The psychological horror of Silent Retreat is more prominent than the bloodletting. But it’s really just a lot of the same happening over and over. The intensity of the film just isn’t all that intense. I like feeling uneasy when watching a horror film and this just didn’t give that.
Ultimately, Silent Retreat was more or less a dud for me. But, as always, I wouldn’t tell anyone else to steer clear from it. If the premise sounds interesting, definitely check it out. You may find it way more on point than I did.
– Eric (Brobocop)