Grimm Up North started the festival with the UK premiere screening of Retreat. The film stars Thandie Newton, Cillian Murphy and Jamie Bell. Charlotte Stear got a chance to chat with the film’s director and producer- Carl Tibbetts and Gary Sinyor.

Charlotte Stear: So what is Retreat all about?

Gary Sinyor: Retreat’s about a couple who go away because of marriage troubles, I find it very difficult to categorise... but I guess it’s kind of a home invasion movie, but more than just your home being invaded. Because of this storyline, because of their troubles, you get really drawn in to it, without wanting to give too much away, it is quite moving.

CS: Is it a horror or more psychological?

GS: We’ve been try to argue whether it’s more of a horror or psychological thriller, but I guess we can’t say too much without giving away the ending. There was a time when horror was a dirty word, but now it’s a very attractive word.

Carl Tibbetts: It sits uncomfortably in either really, it’s like Let The Right One In in terms of whether it’s a horror or not.

GS: We set out to be more “Polanski-esq” because it’s not one of those films where you’re jumping out of your chair, you’re thinking “What would I do?”  It’s a very real dilemma. You have a guy come in with a gun that takes control, and these two are in this relationship, and it’s more about what they do.



CS: So it’s a bit more than either of those genres?

GS: The whole film is about lies, secrets... what is actually going on, the audience are not in on any knowledge of the outside world. It’s all about paranoia and you’re in a situation where you’re not sure if you want to believe him (Jamie Bell) or not.

CS: What was the location like?

GS: Once we had the cast we were desperately looking for a house. We were scouring the internet looking for the perfect place, for remote houses even places like Iceland. But a guy we knew suggested his house, as soon as we saw it I thought, “This is the house! This is the iconic house! “ we were very lucky to find that house.

CT: The cottage was fantastic we found in Wales, Port Merion, brilliant but challenging too, filming in tight spaces and small stairwells. We were going to go with a studio and then we saw the cottage, we had to shoot chronologically because of the destruction of the house as the film moves on so it was definitely limiting.



CS: Did you have any problems with the film’s rating?

CT: No, no problems at all, we are a 15 here and in America I actually think we’re rated R.

CS: What is your history before making Retreat?

GS: I like writing, directing and producing I’m not sure which one I’d say I am, but I’m mostly known for doing comedy so this is my first horror film. I think some horror films have a tendency to throw everything at you, whereas other films such as Paranormal Activity, hold it back and can make it claustrophobic.

CT: Retreat is my first film, it’s the first thing that people actually responded to, and they liked and wanted me to direct it. This has taken around 6 years from when I wrote it, and it only took 4 weeks to shoot.

CS: Do you expect a big following when it comes out on DVD?

GS: I think that’s probably inevitable but we of course want people to see it on the big screen!


CS: What was the casting process like?

CT: I hadn’t directed anything before so I just went in with the script and they all responded to it. Initially Cillian Murphy was asked to play the role of Jack, but he wanted to play the more everyday man role which he doesn’t usually get to play and by a fortunate turn of events, we managed to get that switched around. These three actors are all playing roles that maybe aren’t that typical of them.

CS: How close is the outcome to what you were expecting?

It’s close, very close. But as it progressed, it was a collaborative thing, I was the least experienced person on set!


Retreat goes on general UK release on October 14th




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Daniel Benson
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Fuelled mostly by coffee and a pathological desire to rid the world of bad grammar, Daniel has found his calling by picking holes in other people's work. In the rare instances he's not editing, he's usually breaking things in the site's back end.
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