Adam (Dylan Grunn) and Gus (Grant Schumacher) have been best friends for a long time. However, in every friendship there comes a time where one must move on with his life while the other one feels gets left behind. Adam is soon to get married to Amy (Ariella Mastroianni) and for his bachelor party, Gus persuades Adam to venture out into the cold, snowy Adirondack High Peaks.
Whilst there they learn about a local legend, one that originates from Native American folktale – the Wendigo. Born from the bodies of men who have consumed human flesh to survive, the hideous beasts stalk unwitting travellers in the snow. Partly laughing it off, but a little unsettled from the story, Adam and Gus head out into the wilderness and set up camp.
Then later that night, something disturbs their sleep and before Gus can do anything about it a Wendigo has taken Adam. What follows explores Gus’ guilt at having left his best friend to die, whether he really saw something in the woods that he cannot explain and whether Gus imagined it all and is having a breakdown. Through a series of flashbacks, hallucinations and Gus’ fight for survival against the Wendigo, the audience is left to decide what’s real and what’s not.
The Retreat is a horror movie from writer/director Bruce Wemple that has more depth than a full-on jump scare killing spree than a lot of audiences may expect. The legend of the Wendigo is ripe for cinematic horror and is sparingly used, but thankfully Wemple’s story may have come up with something original before the subgenre even begins to become oversaturated.
The Retreat explores male friendships, guilt and masculinity and does so with a competent and evenly paced story which may put some off viewers who wanted a chilly frightfest. However, for those who are willing to go with it they may find something deeper than they had originally imagined.
Unfortunately, despite an ambitious story with interesting themes, by the end The Retreat may have taken on too much as by the end the tone changes and disappointingly it goes with what audiences may want rather than what would have served the story better.
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