Movie Review-Silent Retreat

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Review-In 2010 I discovered a short film from Ace Jordan called Kill Devil Hill. In this short, Ace showed me he had something different to offer horror. The way the short played out was like reading a short story. It had all the elements right in order to create that unforgettable feel at the end. Now we fast forward to January of 2016 when Silent Retreat comes to home video. The first full length film from Ace. The story is simple enough, we have the scenario of a group of coworkers who get together on a company retreat. What this retreat is for and what actually goes down are night and day. The bonding in this film comes in the form of being in a location that has a bad history. The fun they have is when Rita goes missing and they have no clue where she can be. This film felt at times like two different films. The first 45 minutes or so, laid down this story. The pace was slow and you got to digest all the people and invest some emotion or feelings towards them. The last half of the film was what horror fans buying or renting this film will want. You get the killing, the faster pace and the paranoia of whom could be whom.

Let’s start out with the positives, there is one kill in this film that was really cool and so random, that it worked. (It involves one of the places you may not want to end up at during a fight) The acting was fine, it was a bunch of little known people which added to the freshness of the material and delivery. I also am on the fence on this one, a part of me liked it and another part of me felt I was a little too patient, but at times I liked how the story was playing out in the first half. Which leads me to the negatives, also the way the story played out in the first half. I felt there were scenes like the drinking of the wine and the banter back and forth that felt forced that did not need to be in the film. I get it the film wanted us to feel at ease with the story that we should fear the upcoming storm, but the story for 45 minutes or so with little to no horror, was such a huge test of patience. Also, the flashback sequences. I know this is a popular horror device when people discover the history of either a person or place they find something that gives them the sight to see back in the past. This time it is a tape recording of a session between doctor and patient that shines a light on some history. If this was introduced sooner in the film it would have helped build the story even more. Another negative was the last half of the film. Now if you are going to stick with one pace, it has to be consistent. The last half of this film felt like a mad dash. They just threw so much at us and thought since we followed the story so far that we could just go with it.

This film has twists and turns of course, they all do these days. This film I felt at first had a great twist going, but when the payoff happened at first I felt good about it, but to see it play out was a little less effective. I will admit watching this film, I would say the twist I would never have thought it, but then again I should have thought it. If that makes any sense. Ace Jordan as a director is a very deep and thoughtful storyteller. You would think he is a possible horror writer in the future. The film with all the positives and negatives I named, I will say I did not hate the film. I was not in love with it either. I could see me watching it again, after all I know Ace is a horror fan and that makes me think that when he has a bigger budget things are going to really get interesting. His style and technique I am shocked ABC’s of Death or some anthology did not seek him out to do something. In that spotlight he could really shine and soar. Feature film debut, it took him a lifetime to make it..Hopefully he keeps on making them and learns from what worked and what did not work. Great guy, average film.

7 out of 10