For Millennials. By Millennials.
Most LGBTQ film and television fans are aware with the expression “Bury Your Gays,” which refers to the terrible cliché of queer characters in fiction being statistically more likely to die than straight characters. Queer audiences—particularly queer women—have become accustomed to Hollywood’s not-so-subtle message that their lives are expendable, from Tara in ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’ to Lexa in ‘The 100’.
Creators are finally becoming aware of this overused cliché, and are taking steps to consciously avoid it. Thanks to the community’s outspoken concerns about “Dead Lesbian Syndrome” during the last few decades. To combat it, some people are even writing entire movies. With ‘The Retreat’, a new lesbian slasher horror film directed by Pat Mills, writer Alyson Richards hopes to do just that.
What’s the ‘The Retreat’ about?
‘The Retreat’ is your typical horror film set at a cabin in the woods, with one exception: They’re lesbians! Renee (Tommie-Amber Piri) and Valerie (Sarah Allen) are going on a weekend retreat with their LGBTQ guy friends to help them plan a wedding. Their buddies, however, are nowhere to be found when they arrive at the cottage.
It doesn’t take long for our heroes to be kidnapped and tormented by a mystery; vicious creature dressed entirely in camouflage. The locals, it turns out, are violent homophobic monsters hell-bent on murdering LGBTQ people in the most heinous ways conceivable. Have a good time!
To imply that both of the LGBTQ women in ‘The Retreat’ live is possibly a spoiler. The joyful conclusion, on the other hand, isn’t merely a story point for Richards; it’s the film’s thematic direction.
Richards, in the writer’s statement, says,
“Queer bodies have a long history of being disposable in media. The ‘bury your gays’ trope is real. In so many movies and shows, the queer female characters are often killed or worse, revealed to be the ‘psychotic killer’ and then killed. I really wanted to write a script where the queer women didn’t turn on each other. But instead turned to each other to survive. It was important to me that the gay women in The Retreat work together to turn the tables on the villains and live.”
Not all queer people get a happy ending though
It should be observed, however, that the gay males in the picture are not treated with the same courtesy. The circumstances and audio of Valerie’s friend Connor’s (Chad Connell) death—an incredibly awful hate crime that is aired live on the internet—are agonizing to behold. To be fair, the horror genre thrives on exploitation of agony. But it does dip into the “trauma p*rn” zone of the very real history of brutality against gay men. So, if you want to avoid the “Bury Your Gays” cliché totally, ‘The Retreat’ might not be the movie for you.
However, if you want to watch some lesbians triumph against some nasty homophobes, give ‘The Retreat’ a watch. For the first time in history, lesbians have a chance to survive and have a happy ending.