Movie Review: Silent Retreat

@TigersMS78 gives his thoughts on Silent Retreat


Silent Retreat attempts to mash two sub-genres together and whilst it works in some ways, it certainly doesn’t work all the time. Tricia Lee has created an atmospheric film that probably works better as a psychological horror film early on with emphasis being on silence, it adds to the tense feeling in the film, so when a noise is made it becomes an attention grabbing moment.

Silent Retreat is about Janey Andrews (Chelsea Jenish), a troubled youth sent to a silent meditation retreat in the middle of the woods to be rehabilitated. She discovers that the Doctor (Robert Nolan) who runs the retreat is after more than just her voice, and if Janey doesn’t follow his rules, she’ll discover the terrible secret that lurks beyond the trees, and find out what happens to those who don’t embrace the silence… – that is the basic story but there is clearly more to the story.

The acting in Silent Retreat is for the most part very good and the two leads keep are great. Robert Nolan is amazing and steals the show as the strict and menacing Doctor. His voice carries the gravitas that is needed and with his deep voice, when he delivers a line it resonates, his body language is spot on as well. Chelsea Jenish also fairs well playing the central character Janey. Playing Janey relatively straight Jenish is able to create a character that is flawed but you can certainly relate to her.

Tricia Lee directs with a steady camera, utilising the location well. Lee builds up the tension, managing to get a few shots to leer like voyeur but then is able to switch it over to a more intimate and close shot when it is required, she also manages to get around obvious budgetary restraints with some inventive angles. Lee clearly has directing talent and it’ll be interesting to see what she comes up with next.

The writing in Silent Retreat is up and down, there are some really great moments but they are counter balanced by some segments of exposition and backstory that don’t seem particularly authentic. However overall writer Corey Brown has done a good job by making the story mostly based in reality and it makes the more fanciful elements work together. As this mash up has some opposing sensibilities I think it was wise move making the audience more accepting of the action on screen.

The effects clearly hamstrung by the budget are surprisingly very good. Especially in the frenetic 3rd act of the film there is plenty of bloodletting and other effects and all of them look great, cleverly edited of course but certainly a lesson on doing more with less.

Whilst Silent Retreat is ambitious in its scope to meld two types of horror together it doesn’t quite work as a whole. There are great moments in both of the styles but I think making the film one OR the other would have helped. This not to say Silent Retreat was bad, it’s not. It’s wonderfully shot and well-acted, but these issues just hold it back, however that aside, it is certainly a film that is worth your time.

*We will also have an interview with the director Tricia Lee, coming soon!

Ryan Morrissey-Smith

Follow @TigersMS78 on twitter

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