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SILENT RETREAT (Toronto After Dark Review)

1381819_500263730071277_1235118497_nSILENT RETREAT
Written by Corey Brown
Directed by Tricia Lee

Starring Chelsea Janish, Sofia Banzhaf and Robert Nolan

In order to avoid jail time, Janey (Chelsea Janish), is sent to a “silent retreat” for rehabilitation. Appearing as a summer camp, the retreat accommodates five girls who, for the duration of their stay, are not allowed to speak or make eye contact with one another. Their daily routine consists only of meditation and their meals. Initially, even though this doesn’t seem like a terrible place, Janey refuses to conform to the retreat’s rules, and finds herself falling on the head of the retreat’s bad side. Things become even more difficult for Janey when she begins to notice that the purpose of the retreat is different than it appears to be, and that there may be something lurking in the woods.


Upon first look, SILENT RETREAT has a great premise. An evil doctor and a monster in the woods? Sign me up! Unfortunately, the film’s concept is better than the film itself. The film blatantly paints very misogynistic male characters, which is not really a problem, except for the fact that it balances these chovenists with poorly written, weak female characters. The dialogue between the two female leads often feels awkward, but I hold Corey Brown’s screenplay to blame rather than the actresses themselves, who are decent enough. Janey continues to make poor decisions throughout the film, even before she realizes that there is something strange going on at the retreat. This makes her character unlikeable and makes it difficult for viewers to sympathize with her. With Janey’s character so unlikeable and no chance that audience members will side with the pigs running the show, there only leaves one character for the audience to root for, fellow retreat goer Alexis (Sofia Banzhaf). Though Banzhaf is a strong actor, she is not given much to do with her character, which never really develops and remains a caricature throughout the film. The films strongest feature is actor Robert Nolan, who gives a deliciously evil performance as The Doctor. Nolan is menacing throughout the film and steals the screen in each of his scenes.


SILENT RETREAT does have its brighter moments. It will keep audiences intrigued and showcases lots of promise for its director, Tricia Lee. Despite being bogged down by its weak screenplay, Lee proves herself to be a great horror director, as she is able to build suspense and set a strong mood throughout the film. It will be interesting to see her next film, when she is hopefully given a better script. When selecting your next horror film to watch, I’d say to wait for Lee’s next film instead of joining her at SILENT RETREAT.


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