Story: Isabella (Danielle C. Ryan) has hit a wall of sorts in her life, as she feels like she is drifting and without direction, due in part to her career decisions. When she was a yoga instructor, she loved her work and her life, so while the added income of a more traditional job would be nice, it has also taken a toll. Her husband asks if she’d like to return to the yoga world, but before she can even answer, she receives an unexpected invitation. After years had passed since she applied to an elite yoga retreat, she had given up and moved on, but now her application has been approved. Isabella is confident a week of yoga and meditation are just what she needs, so she accepts and travels to the retreat. There she meets Remy (Jonathan Bennett), the popular yoga teacher who runs the retreat and she learns about his program, one that is so introspective and intense, he expects most of the participants to leave rather than complete the program. Can Isabella manage to navigate this complex retreat and if so, will she finally get the inner peace she wants so badly?

Entertainment Value: Deadly Yoga Retreat is like a slasher movie filtered through over the top melodrama and Lifetime’s special cinematic formula, a wild and super brisk ride. The narrative is fine and sets up the framework well, basically mirroring the hunt and slash methods of slasher flicks, just with the violence toned down. But as far as Lifetime thrillers go, this one dials up the violence aspect and includes blood in multiple scenes, which is rare for the network. None of the violence is overly graphic, but the killer’s attacks are turned up a few notches, so we see stabbings and a nasty neck slice. Again, not gore per se, but a welcome shift to more dramatic, impactful moments in these thrillers. Otherwise, this is an over the top, melodrama soaked Lifetime instant classic, complete with rampant red flag ignoring, emotional outbursts, girl talk, and of course, a villain that takes the movie to the next level. I had a lot of fun with Deadly Yoga Retreat and if you appreciate the high melodrama of Lifetime thrillers, this is highly recommended.

As I mentioned before, Deadly Yoga Retreat has a great villain and while Jonathan Bennett doesn’t capture the yoga cult leader persona the movie wants, he is still immense fun to watch here. He dials up his performance to camp levels, with wild facial reactions and over the top dialogue delivery, he really embraces the melodrama. He is more reserved than Lifetime’s all time psychos, but he really goes for broke here and I appreciate that. I do wish he had more of the cult leader, yoga instructor vibe, as that would have taken things really over the top, but Bennett is a terrific villain and his performance will hopefully lead to other chances to shine for Lifetime. Of course, knowing Bennett is also the host of Cake Wars adds to the madness, at least it does for me, that is. The cast also includes Danielle C. Ryan, Sarah Ashley Rodriguez, and Ashley Brinkman.

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