Silent Retreat (2013) – By Kirsten Walsh

“Janey is sent to a silent meditation retreat, in the woods, for rehabilitation, only to realize that the men who run it are brainwashing women, and if she breaks the rules, she’ll discover what lurks beyond the trees.”

Ah…….the serene world of a silent meditation retreat. It sounds so nice, but this one doesn’t waste any time to scare the bejeebies out of the audience. Following a harrowing intro (which of course teases the audience with a young girl who may or may not be dead after begging for her life), the film showcases a creepy forest through which the film takes place. Asthmatic Janey is introduced (played by newcomer Chelsea Jenish), and the film slows to a slow crawl as character development is worked on.

I enjoyed screenwriter Corey Brown’s challenge of setting the film in a silent meditation “retreat”. For those of the audience who have seen and enjoyed the episode of Buffy from season 4, “Hush”- in which the characters’ voices are stolen by a group of demons, or those of the audience who enjoyed the eery HBO show “The Leftovers”- in which there are a group of those not taken in the so called rapture who exist in complete silence, then you will very much enjoy this film. It is one that truly requires the viewer’s attention, as the dialogue won’t give it all away.

The cinematography is crisp and clean, and the angles are the standard angles that one could expect from a horror film. It would have been nice to see some shots in daylight, as from the moment the film starts, there is a dark tone that lays over it and remains throughout the film. That gloomy tone carries over just a smidgen too much, and leaves the film feeling slightly depressing, even before the real gloom and doom kicks in.

Of course, with the majority of the film focusing on the non-speaking, the score is given a chance to really take the film to the next level, which it gives a good fight, but falls just ever so short. With no strong themes throughout the film, the major opportunity for a heavy crescendo falls flat amongst the audience. A great, dark tone is introduced and sets a great ambiance over the whole story (especially when the dialogue kicks in more), but that is pretty close to it.

The gore and sound effects along with the gore were slightly cheesy, which was an interesting jump for this film. The creature in general was a little out of place- which surprisingly worked. The scene where the creature is running around in the cafeteria/ meeting hall while Janey and her friend attempt to sneak on top of the tables was just oddly humorous- as if it was Jaws that was swimming around under the tables. Just odd, and it worked pretty well. Also, the choices to keep the creature somewhat out of focus for a chunk of the film was an interesting one, and one that kept the viewer on edge….wanting to see more!

Of course, this film has a lot more going on then was mentioned here (a slight romantic interest, a religious twist, a somewhat pedophilic head of the camp who seems to want to punish and correct the girls a little more than he lets on, and more), but I definitely don’t want to ruin the film for anyone.

Would I watch this film again? Most likely. It is a somewhat dark, moody piece that would be perfect on a rainy day- maybe a Sunday!

More information can be found on the official Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SilentRetreat and the film can currently be found on Amazon Prime!