Chelsea Jenish (left) and Sofia Banzhaf fall victim to Silent Retreat.
SILENT RETREAT(Tricia Lee). 95 minutes. For venues and times, see listings. Rating: NN
Tricia Lee's Silent Retreat starts out really well, establishing an eerie mood in its opening scenes as troubled Janey (Chelsea Jenish) arrives at a remote juvenile rehabilitation centre somewhere in northern Ontario.
Well, it's more of a compound, really - just a few cabins and a dining hall where the residents can think about what's brought them to this point in their lives in the complete absence of communication, verbal or otherwise. No talking, no singing, no listening to music, no writing, no reading.
In that nicely unsettling first movement, Janey explores her surroundings, clashes with her authoritarian overseer (Robert Nolan) and starts wondering what's in that one creepy cabin - and why the people who run the place are so freaked out about being outdoors once the sun goes down.
But when we get the point where answers become necessary and Corey Brown's script has to start explaining things, it slides into fairly conventional horror beats, short-changing character development for shocks, gore and at least one plot point that should have been reconsidered during the development stage.
There's real talent here, both in front of the camera and behind it, but it doesn't quite gel the way it needs to.