Silent Retreat is about six people who work at a media company who go on a weekend business retreat. The retreat takes place at an isolated lodge in the woods that was formerly a mental institution. When one of the members of the group goes missing, the dark secrets of the lodges past begin to claim victims one by one.
Silent Retreat may not have the most original of story lines, (it's a cabin in the woods, folks), but something I really appreciated about the film was that it took itself seriously and presented a story and atmosphere that could deliver a scary movie. I like the way it avoided the college kids going to party at a lodge in the woods set up and instead took a more adult approach by making it a business retreat. Now, don't get me wrong, the employees are still young and the usual weekend getaway hijinks ensue, but hey, I'll give points for taking a somewhat different route to get there. The set up in the beginning was quick and to the point and left enough mystery to lead the viewer into the film feeling intrigued.
The location is great and the lodge sets up a deceptively comfortable setting that creates an eerie atmosphere underneath it all. The lodge itself is so nice, and so full of hand crafted decoration and personality that you just know it harbors some dark secrets, like one of those gaudy mansions in Gothic horror. It gives off that impression that you're never truly alone, and this feeling from the lodge goes a long way in giving off an uneasy feeling throughout the film.
The film has a bit of a slow build up. I fear a lot of horror fans may think it's a bit too slow of a build up and think it boring. I for one like the time we get to spend with the characters so we have a sense of knowing them. This makes the events to come that much more dreadful. And when they do come, the film does a nice job of tying the beginning into the events that take place, and ultimately it's outcome.
The film does experience some hiccups along the way. It's unfortunate that the obligatory smart ass of the group, Teddy, isn't that funny or endearing like those characters aim to be. Instead he just came across as annoying and I found every time he spoke to be a distraction from the film itself. Another distraction is the dialogue is a bit uneven. At times it seems a bit wooden and others pretty inspired. The scene where the group is welcomed to the retreat seems odd and stilted, whereas a scene where two characters banter about Axl Rose is very genuine and real feeling. The Axl Rose scene may have something to do with the two lead characters, Frank and Megan, having great onscreen chemistry together.I wouldn't call Silent Retreat a great movie, but I did enjoy the slow churn of the story and the subtlety of the eerie atmosphere as the horror built up. Overall it was a solid flick to watch alone in the dark.