Director: Carl Tibbetts
Starring: Cillian Murphy, Thandie Newton and Jamie Bell
Just like the old football cliche, Retreat is a story of two halves. It starts out as a relationship-breakdown drama and just as the boredom factor sets in, the tale makes a surprising and intriguing lurch into science-fiction territory.
Sympathetic Martin (Murphy) is taking his unhappy wife Kate (Newton) on holiday in an effort to reignite their failing marriage. The deserted Scottish island of Blackholme is where they once had a perfect holiday in 2002.
While such seclusion was great when their love was young, now the place seems designed to echo pregnant pauses. Mobile phones don't work either (the moment where the signal is lost has fast become a horror movie cliche).
So it's almost a relief to the couple when they discover Jack (Bell) washed ashore with a bad head wound. Relief turns to fear when Jack spins them a yarn about the mainland having been decimated by a killer virus and that their only hope for survival is to stay in the island cottage.
Should they trust Jack? Is he mad? Well acted, this three-hander cranks up the suspense à la the 1989 boat thriller Dead Calm. The script from the director Carl Tibbetts and the co-writer Janice Hallett makes the most of the simple premise to keep the audience and the characters guessing throughout. It even has a surprising finale.
It's a great calling card, making the most of the low budget, but it's too cliche-ridden, especially at the start, and too reminiscent of other movies to truly surprise.