During the height of lockdown, we found out about a brand-new event from the team behind the award-winning Scream Camp, called The Retreat. We knew very little about the event other than what was posted on social media, but having experienced Scream Camp, and the Halloween special Scream Camp: The Ritual we knew we had to find out what The Retreat had in store.
The Retreat is a 13-hour overnight scare event for only two people at a time and it was one of the first scare events to start up after lockdown. The event has been designed from the ground up to be fully socially distanced while giving you the best scares possible, rather than trying to adapt an existing format. We had the opportunity to visit quite early in the run of this truly unique event
Resisting seeing, hearing or reading any spoilers about the event had been a challenge for us, but we’re so glad that we did, as going in blind to The Retreat is honestly the best way to experience it. Because of that, we will try to not give any spoilers away but if you can’t resist and want to know the detail of what happens head over to our friends at ScareTrack YouTube channel for a spoiler-filled video of their experience of The Retreat. Our experience was pretty much the same.
The Retreat is certainly an experience like no other. The action kicks off at 8 pm sharp in a rural car park where you wait to be taken to the accommodation. The journey there is eventful and hilarious. After a short while, you end up at The Retreat, a picturesque lodge in the middle of nowhere which will be the setting for the evening. Whilst you have the lodge until checkout at 9 am the following morning the main show itself doesn’t last all night, finishing at around 1 am to 2 am, so you do get the opportunity for some sleep if you can manage it given the evening’s excitement that is. The lodge, by the way, was excellent, we’d happily have stayed even as a normal AirBnB.
The event builds slowly, almost lulling you into a false sense of security as you settle down in the lovely and cosy lodge but steadily manages to create an incredibly eerie experience. First, through the clever use of effects whilst you’re relaxing and later in the evening, outside the comfort of the lodge, the use of darkness and limited lighting worked really well enabling some well-executed scares as you look in every direction. Every creak, every rustle has you wondering if you’re being watched or followed, is it just some local wildlife or just the wind?
Scarecrow, the lead character, features throughout and is responsible for the various tasks you may have to complete. You meet a number of what we would describe as the Scarecrows minions/acolytes during the evening as well. These characters have brilliant masks that work well in the darkness. The masks are so expressive but with the simplicity of the costumes just works. Kudos to the actors as each of them manages to impart their own distinct personality on the characters despite the full-face masks and almost complete silence.
The tension steadily builds up through the night as things get more and more intense, leading to a finale that was well executed but quite difficult to watch. The events that you experience during the night are likely to stay with you long afterwards and you may question what, if anything, you may have done differently if you did it again.
Social distancing is clearly a key part of this experience and the way that it was adhered to, worked well for an event of this kind. The use of the woods enabled the characters to create effective scares while staying a number of meters away. We can’t help but think if this is what can be delivered with the current restrictions, once things are lifted the possibilities are almost endless when social distancing rules change
As with previous Scream Camp events, we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves, thanks to the hard work and passion from a team that constantly strives to bring something new and innovative to the UK scare scene. In this instance it’s an interactive overnight horror movie experience and that works well in the current socially distanced climate. We look forward to what comes next from the team at Scream Camp.
Unfortunately, tickets have sold out for this run of The Retreat but keep your eyes open for any future announcements from the Scream Camp team.