Retreat – Netflix mini review

A young married couple having troubles seek to sort their relationship out with a visit to an old retreat from their past; a remote Scottish island. Sounds nice. But also sounds like a set up for an intense thriller; which this is. People should sometimes know better. Indeed if this had been a group of friends staying on a  remote island, you know it would be a slasher flick, but as the main characters are two simple thirty-somethings (played well by the always enjoyable actors, Thandie Newton and Cillian Murphy) trying to get their lives together, you get the feeling you are in for something more interesting.

And that welcome jolt to the narrative is provided the appearance of an injured stranger on the island, in the form of Jamie Bell. What’s worse, he happens to pass out at their doorstep just as their little retreat (see where the title comes from) has lost power, and contact with the mainland. After spiriting away the unconscious strangers gun, they wait for him to wake, and are rewarded with news that the mainland has been devastated by a pandemic, and people everywhere are dying.

This is where things get interesting. The stranger vies for control of the retreat, asserting that he is from the military, and that they should do as he says. Tensions begin to rise as the panicky/paranoid/aggressive stranger’s true motives seem questionable.

I won’t go any further, as that would stray too far into spoiler territory, but it is worth pointing out that though this story appears to only have two outcomes (he is lying and there is no plague, or he is telling the truth and there is), the ending allows for a refreshingly different direction for the story to go.

I gave this movie three stars, mainly because the ending seemed a bit rushed, and some of the characters decisions in the last act don’t really seem as well thought out as their characters initially were painted. The story itself however is well worth watching. Its familiar territory for a thriller, with a new mysterious character inserting themselves into others problems with the backdrop of some crisis to drive things along, but it is well executed, and delivered with decent performances from the minimal cast.

A nice weekend watch.