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.
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A creature feature. In this horror film, Janey is sent to a silent retreat in the middle of the woods for rehabilitation, only to discover that the men who run it are brainwashing women to be quiet and submissive, and if she breaks the rules, she'll find out what lurks beyond the trees ... Written by
Janey (Chelsea Jenish) is a trouble child. And for her efforts, or lack thereof, is sent off to a remote retreat for nonconformist girls under the guidance of a doctor (Robert Nolan) whose methods are .a bit radical. The Doctor, and his staff of male accomplices, uses hypnosis and other extreme techniques to get their subjects to comply with their rules that command their patients to be completely obedient through deafening silence. Failure to obey the directions beyond their imposed 'two-strike rule' will result in the subject being fed to a lurking creature that inhabits the surrounding woods.
Janey is hardly the conformist. And her rebellious attitude towards the retreat's rules and regulators eventually lead to unavoidable confrontation. But with other girls simply disappearing, Janey must weigh her defiance against the risks of being overpowered by either the male administrators or the evil yet to be revealed from the outside.
Director Tricia Lee makes her feature film debut with Silent Retreat and shows a high degree of talent in transitioning genres. The film's opening scene is unquestionably horror, but the film switches gears and takes more of a dramatic path for the middle act focusing on Janey's relationship with fellow prisoner Alexis (Sofia Banzhaf) and the regimented retreat rules. We got lost ourselves for a while forgetting for a few moments that there was something mysteriously lurking within the forest. A mysterious something that reveals itself in the film's final chapters reminding us that Silent Retreat is horror plain and simple.
Characters as portrayed by Chelsea Jenish, Sofia Banzhaf and Robert Nolan are perfectly cast as they lend their combined talents to a tale that all three seem committed to pulling together. Lee does not seem to be in rush to allow blood splatter consistently through the film's full 95-minute running time and instead uses her DVD chapters wisely to form a setting and atmosphere that the film will heavily rely upon.
Silent Retreat won Best Canadian Film at the 2013 Toronto After Dark Film Festival, but you can remove the "Canadian" from the award plaque and you would still be left with a viable and enjoyable film worthy of our attention.
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