Director Carl Tibbettes describes Retreat as a ‘character piece’ – which is accurate but possibly missing the word ‘predictable’. With a story about three people trapped in a house and a pandemic looming outside the door, a film already has a lot going for it. Add in stars like Cillian Murphy and Thandie Newton and you should be golden. Sadly, Retreat is just as I stated: predictable. A claustrophobic tale of a couple trying to mend their relationship – only to be brought back together by life or death situations – has already been overused, even with well-rounded actors, as have infectious global pandemics. Perfect framing and location can’t make up for bad writing.
Retreat is very well done in terms of editing, location, and acting, but the story itself is almost too simple. Perhaps it’s the simplicity that drew the stars to it – this question may or may have not been answered in the Making-Of Featurette on the DVD. After several minutes, the reel becomes tiresome – with the director and crew fawning over the story as if it was the most unique piece on the planet. The tale of finding the right location to film at was great, and while the English countryside of a remote island is beautiful, beyond that the praise becomes overwhelmingly dull – and further information that could have been gathered by the makers was washed over with one party wanting to kiss another party’s ass. Maybe that’s how all making of pieces actually are and I’ve just never had the pleasure of sitting through one for such a predictable film, making it an uneventful experience. Unfortunately, add just a gallery of stills and that’s it for the DVD extras. Not even a trailer.
I must comment on the box art. You know the painting that is revealed at the end of Ghostbusters II with all of the guys in togas sitting with baby Oscar? Remember how embarrassed you felt when you saw that? Retreat’s box art is close. It’s not photoshopped bad; it’s just so piss poor thrown together that I’m embarrassed. In the center is our villain with what looks like a crappy photoshopped wound (ok, so there is bad Photoshop), looking halfway between drunk and menacing. Thandie Newton stands behind one shoulder, startled that she was once on ER and now she’s in this movie. And behind the other is Cillian Murphy, looking confused as he thought he already made this movie and reminiscing about that other movie where he got to act like he was doing it with Scarlett Johansson.
While I wasn’t bored out of my mind watching the movie, I did see the end 30 minutes in – and felt I was watching the last 60 only to make sure I was right.