The Retreat – Canadian horror flick filmed in Ontario with lesbian lead characters
The Retreat is a horror/thriller that seeks to reframe how LGBT characters are portrayed in the genre. A couple at a crossroad in their relationship (Renee and Valerie) leave the city to spend the weekend at a remote cabin with friends, but when they arrive, their friends are nowhere to be found. As they stumble through their relationship woes, they discover they are being hunted by a group of militant extremists who are determined to exterminate them.
This movie definitely catches you by surprise. What starts as a slow moving indie film, quickly changes midway through to become a gory horror flick that can compete with the best of Hollywood slashers. It’s definitely not for the faint of heart, as some of the most gruesome scenes are quite realistic.
The two main characters hit up a cabin for a friends wedding, and while they are there to relax in the wild, there’s trouble lurking behind the trees. Eventually they are hunted, and it appears they are being hunted for the sole purpose of their sexuality. This likely won’t go over well with some people who will proclaim it as another “gays die” movie, however there is a twist to this one for those who watch it through to the end.
Great soundtrack that features Allie X, along with the classic horror movie instrumentals, and some of the best special effects I’ve seen in a while. Like, turn-your-head-away effects. Give this one a go for a fright night!
Available on digital and on demand Friday, May 21, 2021 from Aqute Media Inc and Quiver Distribution.
The Retreat was filmed in the area of Mono Mills, Ontario, and is directed by Pat Mills, written by Alyson Richards, and stars Tommie-Amber Pirie, Sarah Allen, Rossif Sutherland, Aaron Ashmore and Celina Sinden.
WRITER’S NOTES – Alyson Richards
The idea for the film originated when my wife and I spent the night at a remote wilderness retreat in the middle of nowhere. We never saw our hosts, but kept feeling like we were being watched. We were hyper aware of how exposed we felt and how vulnerable we were so far from the comfort of the city. A vulnerability we felt not just as women but also as queer women, in a remote setting. we were at the mercy of our surroundings and strangers we weren’t sure we could trust.
In many ways, times have never been better for the LGBTQ+ community. Especially if you live in a progressive city but what happens when we leave that safety and comfort? THE RETREAT explores that fear.
And why wouldn’t we be scared? As right wing extremist sentiments surge globally, I’m reminded of just how recent, much of the progress for the LGBTQ community really is. Same sex marriage was only legalized in 2015 in America and even in the most tolerant cities in the world, queer people are still getting attacked. There is still so much hatred and it seems like every week there is a new piece of Anti-LGBTQ+ Legislation being proposed. We are moving forward and backwards at the same time. We’ve never had so many rights yet there is still so much ignorance and hate.
People being targeted and harmed for just being who they are infuriates me. Writing THE RETREAT was my cathartic way of dealing with my anger. It’s the movie version of how I feel these days: Don’t fuck with us cause we’ll fight back.
Another big driving factor for writing this film was feeling frustrated by the representation of queer characters in genre movies. Queer bodies have a long history of being disposable in media. The ‘bury your gays’ trope is real. In so many movies and shows, the queer female characters are often killed or worse, revealed to be the ‘psychotic killer’ and then killed. Our limited representation is often expendable and only exists to support the heteronormative narrative.
I really wanted to write a script where the queer women didn’t turn on each other but instead turned to each other to survive. It was important to me that the gay women in THE RETREAT work together to turn the tables on the villains and live.
Director’s Notes – Pat Mills
Being different and sticking out in a place that does not feel safe is something we can all relate to, but for those of us who are queer-identified, this fear takes up space in our identities – it becomes a part of us.
THE RETREAT is about everyone’s worst fear: being targeted for being who they are.
In an evolving world, where women, minorities and LGBTQ+ communities are fighting for equality, the villains in THE RETREAT are afraid of losing their power and they fight back with violence. It’s simple and visceral.
The fear of the woods has been explored in the horror/thriller genre since the beginning, but THE RETREAT explores this fear from a queer perspective. And what’s more terrifying than being alone in the woods at night? The alt-right.
While queer people love horror films, it’s not a love that comes easy: Slashers have a history of sexualizing their victims and are told from the cis white heterosexual male perspective. All of these problematic stories are written and directed by heterosexual men. Queer genre movies are almost impossible to come by. In fact, queer representation in the genre is troubling: LGBTQ+ characters have a history of either being killed off early in these films, or in some cases, the killer! (In the case of HAUTE TENSION, her sexuality triggers the violence, basically implying that her lesbianism is blatant psychopathy). I didn’t have interest in demonizing or sexualizing our characters; instead, I wanted to show strong female characters fighting back and kicking ass.
THE RETREAT comes at the genre from a new perspective. We are underrepresented in the genre – this screenplay comes from the female perspective and directed by a queer point of view.
In this scary political climate, all of us can relate to the anxiety of being different.
THE RETREAT is a cabin-in-the-woods movie made for us and by us – but everyone can relate to the need to survive. As extremist subcultures boil to the surface, the fears explored in THE RETREAT are more relevant than ever.
About the Author
Bryen Dunn is a freelance journalist with a focus on travel, lifestyle, entertainment and hospitality. He has an extensive portfolio of celebrity interviews with musicians, actors and other public personalities. He enjoys discovering delicious eats, tasting spirited treats, and being mesmerized by musical beats.