Tag Archives: Munro Chambers

Cabin. Woods. Uh Oh.

The Retreat

by George Wolf

Does it matter that The Retreat is a “gay” horror film?

Well, no. And then yes.

Renee (Tommie-Amber Pirie) and Valerie (Sarah Allen) are on the verge of making their relationship permanent, but feel like some time away would do them good. The plan is to meet Val’s friends Scott (Turbo Kid‘s Munro Chambers) and Connor (Chad Connell) at a picturesque “gay BnB” for some quiet time in the Canadian countryside.

Or let’s just call it what it is: a cabin in the woods.

Uh oh.

Right, things escalate quickly. Scott and Connor are nowhere to be seen, and with just a touch of contrivance, the girls soon realize they’re being hunted by some sadistic Rambros (Aaron Ashmore, Rossif Sutherland).

From the minute Renee and Val stop for gas, director Pat Mills builds an air of dread and tension minus the usual gimmickry. And once the women are truly fighting for their lives, Mills keeps the adrenaline pumping with a quick pace and crisp editing that helps you forget the distractingly dark tones of the cinematography.

Writer Alyson Richards pens a lean, mean, bloody survival thriller that boasts some welcome surprises and a smart social conscience. Realized via strong performances from Pirie and Allen, Renee and Val’s relationship feels perfectly authentic, with a sexuality that’s never exploited by a leering camera. And while you may be reminded of 2018’s What Keeps You Alive, there is a critical difference.

The couple in that film could have been heterosexual, and it still would have worked. But here, the fact that it is a same sex couple being hunted matters very much to the story at work. It enables Richards and Mills to anchor a revenge horror show with a satisfying metaphor for the violent threats LGBTQ folks continue to face every day.

A big part of that satisfaction is from the blunt force trauma being reserved for the action, not the message. And for those who might be ready to accuse the film of doing some undue stereotyping of its own, take a breath.

A nifty little coup de grace proves The Retreat has seen you coming all along.

Set a Course for Adventure


by Hope Madden

There are a limited number of reasons people become and remain friends. Some of those reasons are just nonsense. And yet, three friends of dubious worth to one another gather to repeat their familiar patterns, which land them on a yacht for an apology daytrip.

Richard (Christopher Gray) —  brash, spoiled and quick to anger— is apologizing. Jonah (Munro Chambers – Turbo Kid!) —bruised and bloody—is probably too quick to forgive. Sasha (Emily Tyra) has plenty of reason to be tired of both boyfriend Richard and bestie Jonah.

The fact that Jonah and Sasha bring along Richard’s birthday gift clarifies how little anyone in this triangle has learned.

And so, Sasha, Jonah, Richard and Richard’s new harpoon set off on an unplanned, ill-advised, seafaring jaunt.

Drinks all around!

Co-writer/director Rob Grant keeps events snarky with a voice-of-God narration (assuming God’s a sailor) performed by a brilliantly deadpan Brett Gelman. As far as this nameless narrator who inexplicably sees all is concerned, the dangers facing this volatile threesome have less to do with their pathological history and more to do with the sailing omens they ignorantly flout.

Give an irrational drunk prone to fits of rage the gift of a pointy projectile weapon? Meh. But bring bananas on board—now that’s really pushing things.

The darkly silly commentary adds some tang to the friends’ foolhardy adventure, but Grant’s themes are not entirely comedic. He strands the trio at sea for days on end, their survival instincts overtaking their petty sniping as they find a new reason for friendship: the common good.

Grant offers a nice balance here between dark humor and genuine tension born of realistic performances. Chambers, Tyra and Gray offer frustratingly recognizable characters, the kind that make idiotic choices, less because it forwards the action of the script (although it does) and more because people are stupid and they fall into familiar roles.

The film makes more than a few convenient moves, but it packs a lot of surprises and showcases very solid performances.

Who knew redheads were bad luck?