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The Retreat

USA 2020
produced by
Bruce Wemple, Nate VanDeusen, Grant Schumacher, Dylan Grunn, Ryan Sloan, Cole Payne (executive), Roger M. Mayer (executive), Anna Shields (executive) for 377 Films, Traverse Terror
directed by Bruce Wemple
starring Grant Schumacher, Dylan Grunn, Chris Cimperman, Peter Stray, Rick Montgomery jr, Ariella Mastroianni, Nate VanDeusen, Roger Cornell, Alex Lacey, Catharine Daddario, Kristin Kopach
written by Bruce Wemple, music by Nate VanDeusen, visual effects by 377 Films, Wendigo-costume by Immortal Masks

Wendigo

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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Adam (Dylan Grunn) is about to get married, so as a sort-of batchelor party, he and best friend Gus (Grant Schumacher) go on a backpacking trip into the Adirondack High Peack - meaning massive hikes in the snow. At the Air-BnB that serves as their base the learn about the legend of the Wendigo, a creature with vampiric and even cannibalistic traits that mostly plays on one's mind though, from their host Marty (Rick Montgomery jr), but of course, legends are legends. That said, at their next camp, after they have done some mushrooms they got from fellow hiker Ryan (Chris Cimperman), Gus starts to see Wendigos, thinks they're chasing him, and manages to stab one. The next morning, Gus finds Adam gone, and when he finally manages to track him down, Adam's dead, stabbed to death most probably - and it's more than likely that Gus has actually stabbed him the night before under the drug-induced impression that he's the Wendigo. Gus is quick to bury him and then tries to find his way back to civilisation - but he only gets lost, until he ultimately finds a cabin, with no food inside but a loaded gun. Gus takes abode in the cabin, and that night sees a Wendigo attack which he shoots - only in the light of the next morning, the body of the Wendigo turns out to be a dead hiker, which Gus in his desparation cuts up and eats from.

Gus is found eventually, brought back to civilisation, and is of course thought to have killed Adam, whose body hasn't been found. Thing is, periodically, Gus is pulled back to the hike through the mountains, and the more vivid his memories get, the more they start to tell another story ...

 

The Retreat is a pretty clever monster film that actually starts out playing it by the book, and while it's very well made for sure, it gives one the feeling to have things figured out before they have actually happened, really. But then, abouth halfway through, the film questions that established reality, subverts what has been seen really, to the point where it's up to the viewer to decide for oneself what's true and what the main character's (or any other character's) imagination. And what makes this work is that the direction is very subtle about it, avoids "big" reveals instead creates a feel of unease about what might and might not be real, and generally puts atmosphere over action, while the solid cast keeps things grounded, all of which makes this a pleasently creepy shocker.

 

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review © by Mike Haberfelner

 

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Tales to Chill
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Tales to Chill
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On the same day
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directed by
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written by
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