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Sarah Allen and Tommie-Amber Pirie in The Retreat, directed by Pat Mills.Handout

  • The Retreat
  • Directed by Pat Mills
  • Written by Alyson Richards
  • Starring Tommie-Amber Pirie, Sarah Allen, Celina Sinden and Aaron Ashmore
  • Classification R; 82 minutes

Critic’s pick

At this point, expecting a horror movie to be as unique as it is terrifying is a tall order. Especially when, on the surface, its story is rooted in a pretty simple plot: A lesbian couple arrives at a cabin for a weekend away, only to discover that they’re in extreme danger.

But much like the heroes of this story, The Retreat manages to defy expectations. And while some gory clichés still abound, it makes for a gruesome, gritty thriller that lets its leads shine. Especially since stars Sarah Allen and Tommie-Amber Pirie (who play Val and Renee) adhere viewers to them so successfully thanks to their depth and agency.

Minutes into the film, we learn that despite their differences, Val and Renee’s love is real – which is key since their survival depends on mutual support to evade the bigot extremists who are preying on them. Not that director Pat Mills wastes time overemphasizing anything: The story moves quickly, the autumnal background is both beautiful and nightmare fodder, and each villain represents their own brand of terror. Truly, a digestible and effective approach to horror.

The Retreat is available on-demand, including Apple TV/iTunes, starting May 21.

In the interest of consistency across all critics’ reviews, The Globe has eliminated its star-rating system in film and theatre to align with coverage of music, books, visual arts and dance. Instead, works of excellence will be noted with a Critic’s Pick designation across all coverage.

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