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By Mark Bell | October 18, 2013

Duncan (Dominic Coleman) and Karen (Esther Hall) are struggling in their marriage, so they decide to stay at a friend’s house in the country for a weekend getaway. Just prior to our married couple’s arrival, however, Gary (Dean Nolan) and Kevin (Simon Harvey), expecting an empty house, drop by to rob the house’s hidden safe. Darkly comic hijinks ensue as the robbers prove to be less than criminal masterminds, our married couple have some severe issues to work out beyond suddenly being tied up and the house’s caretaker, who first encountered Gary and Kevin earlier in the day, turns out to be one tough old bastard.

Brett Harvey’s Weekend Retreat is a dark comedy about one particularly rough weekend for all involved. There will be revelations, there will be stupidity and there will be blood. But will anyone get that damn safe open?

For as madcap as everything gets, however, there is a feeling that we’ve seen this done before. It’s not to say that the film is bad, but I didn’t find myself all that surprised with any of the developments. You know that there’s something more to the robbers, you know the couple is having trouble and the old man, well, you know he’s not going anywhere anytime soon. Whether or not you can pin down the exact flavors to come, you know this brand of soup.

That doesn’t mean the film isn’t funny, in its tragic way. It doesn’t quite go gruesome, but it certainly has some disturbingly bloody moments. The physical comedy almost works in the same way a jump scare works in a horror film; everything is going insane and then, yikes, something really bad happens.

Technically the film is strong, though the score, at times, is too over-the-top for my tastes; early on especially as the music seems to be trying to set the stage for misdirection. I enjoyed the visual style of the film, as it has a faded quality, and the film employs some stylistic editing that would fit in with an episode of Spaced. In fact, the edit seems to switch up in quite a few ways to match the tone or genre the film is working with at the time, so there are action elements, horror elements, melodrama… the film is all over the place, now that I think about it, but in a decidedly assured way.

In the end, though, Weekend Retreat is a solid dark comedy. The humor works when it needs to, the few dramatic developments flesh out the characters as they should and add more meat to the tale and overall the entire film comes together as a quality, if not unfamiliar, experience.

This film was submitted for review through our Submission for Review system. If you have a film you’d like us to see, and we aren’t already looking into it on our own, you too can utilize this service.

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