A claustrophobic thriller with acting very much to the fore, Retreat is a nifty thought-provoker that, while offering little in the way of bang-for-your-buck, certainly delivers the goods.

The film has definite echoes of 2006 low-budget terrorism gem Right at your Door (another flick I thoroughly enjoyed), although the DVD cover quote insists it is a mix of ‘Straw Dogs’ and ’28 Days Later’ – which I don’t necessarily agree with.

Cillian Murphy and Thandie Newton play couple Martin and Kate, who in a bid to recover from a recent miscarriage decide to head to a remote Scottish island for a slice of isolation and relaxation.

The pair are not on the best of terms, and with Kate being a journalist a somewhat lazy plot device sees her compiling an online diary to make that point abundantly clear.

Their situation becomes a lot darker though with the arrival of a bloodied soldier (Jamie Bell).

The trooper informs the couple that a pandemic has broken out on the mainland – an airborne virus that is threatening to wipe out the population.

Suddenly the couple are under siege as Bell’s character holes them up in a bid to survive.

But is he to be believed, or is he merely an unhinged nutjob?

That is the question that Retreat keeps on the audience’s lips for the vast bulk of its running time, and the major success is you are never really sure either way.

Aside from a clutch of scenes involving a genial old boatman the film is entirely made up of scenes involving the aforementioned three stars, and they all deliver.

Bell is particularly impressive, a bubbling mix of menace and mystery.

Director Carl Tibbetts, making his debut in that role, shows a neat eye for detail and keeps the tension simmering.

Although at times things resemble a play more than a film due to the simple set and paucity of characters, that is by no means a bad thing.

After all, when the acting is of this standard, do you really need anything else?

 

EXTRAS: Making Of featurette, photo gallery, trailer

About The Author

Simon Fitzjohn

Simon is a journalism tutor in London, who also just happens to be a movie fanatic, with a craving for the darker side of cinema. He has written two books, one on the horror films of director Bob Clark (2014) and the other on the history of the character Norman Bates (2015). His third book, on the work of British exploitation director Pete Walker, is due in 2017.