RiverRun 2018: The Psychological Trauma of Scottish Horror RETREAT

It is hard to suppress your brain from incidents that happen in your life, especially when those incidents involve people close to you. Trying to move forward and away from painful memories can come around to bite you in the long run as well. This is the case for Retreat.

Director Tom Nicholl created a film about trying to escape sad and unfortunate memories. Kaitlin and her boyfriend, Al, leave Glasgow to watch over a lodge in a remote location. However, Kaitlin starts to experience the feeling like someone is in the house with her.

Prior to departing Glasgow, Kaitlin is shown dealing with her alcoholic, ex military brother Wallace. Her brother seems to have some sort of PTSD from being in the military and with each passing day the burden is harder to bare. When Kaitlin gets the chance to go to the lodge and be a caretaker there, she scoops up that opportunity. At her last visit, Katilin and her brother say their goodbyes on an unfortunate circumstance. Leaving things on a sour note, Wallace is then shown to have died of self inflicting wounds in a shower. This is where the film takes a turn.

Once at the lodge, Kaitlin receives the call of her brothers passing. This weighs heavy on her since the last time she saw him it was not on good terms. She ignores her mother and does not attend the funeral. From there the darkness that is surrounding the entire incident haunts Kaitlin day in and day out. She starts to feel a presence around her and starts to feel that the lodge in some way has something to do with this. She takes herself on a wild goose chase after realizing that pictures of recurring guests have the same symbol in it. Dismantling the lodge, alienating her boyfriend, causing an uproar with her boyfriend’s boss, and unknowingly killing something, Kaitlin spirals into a world of psychological terror.

What is the real terror in this movie is how the brain can function after traumatic incidents in one’s life, especially death. You feel for Kaitlin since she just lost her brother. She feels as though the spirit of her brother is haunting her. Not only that, but the guilt is weighing heavy on her shoulders. Things did not end well between them and now it is too late to rectify the situation. Anxiety and panic kick in making every day a new conquest in getting through.

The psychological aspect of Retreat is really great, however; the rest of the execution was a bit lackluster. Even though this is comprised of a short run time, it felt as though some of the content did not even need to be in it. It felt like the marshmallow fluff to the peanut butter base. Unfortunately throughout Retreat, the viewers is left asking why. Scenes just do not add up in areas making this an imperfect puzzle piece.

Each scene is beautifully shot and framed. Retreat is worth seeing to see how the psyche reacts when trying to leave things behind, but it fails to give complete answers.

Rachael Hauschild
Resident Animal Doctor / Scream Queen
Rachael was born and raised outside of Philadelphia and has lived there her whole life. Movies took over her life after graduating from college. Horror, indies, and classic Hollywood are her favorite genres. If she's not watching a movie, she's most likely traveling, attending a film festival somewhere in the US, watching hockey, or doing her full time job of reception/social media coordinator at an animal hospital outside of Philly.
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