A young pastor’s daughter is brutally killed when she sees something she shouldn’t. Along with the help of a haunted police officer, the pastor follows a trail to revenge and finds it leads him somewhere completely unexpected. The Retaliators is a film about revenge, and finding the line between defense and torture. It’s finer than you’d think.
I’m going to put it out there, The Retaliators was not for me. What I mean by that is I am not the target audience for this feature, and this feature needs a target audience to appeal to. The good news is that audience is huge and does exist. The Retaliators opened to a packed full house at TCL Chinese Theater in Hollywood on Tuesday, October 12th. It was the opening film for Screamfest which will run until October 21st. Hundreds of viewers cheered and applauded as men seeking retribution tore each other apart.
I’d heard about this film, but I admit my expectations were low. I was pleasantly surprised at the quality of the production and the fine acting. Pastor Jon (Michael Lombardi) is raising two girls alone and is trying to teach them how to live a clean, honorable life. Full of turning the other cheek and being humble, the young pastor is full of love for his family and congregation. One night, his daughter Sarah (Katie Kelly) is getting gas and accidentally hears the aftermath of a drug deal gone wrong. She’s murdered by Joseph Gatt’s Ram Kady (who is known in the film simply as “Vic’s brother”. Seriously, I didn’t realize he had a name until I checked IMDb).
This action sets off a chain reaction wherein a local sheriff assigned to the case, Jed (Marc Menchaca) offers a way to “healing” for Pastor John. He’s haunted by the death of loved ones at the hand of a brutal criminal Quinn Brady (Jacoby Shaddix, Papa Roach’s frontman). Jed then proceeds to lead the pastor into the world of torture and Jon will have to figure out if he has the mettle for it.
I know I certainly did not, but I have to say, even though I watched a lot of the movie with my eyes closed, the parts I could see were very very fun. The Retaliators succeeds because it doesn’t get bogged down in the details. It knows exactly what kind of film it is and exactly how to deliver on those goods while exceeding expectations. The acting is solid, particularly by Katie Kelly as Sarah. Pastor Jon has kind, brown eyes that are trusting and inviting. The bad guys are extremely menacing and mean business. There are no punches pulled and the ones that do land are bloody and gory and going to knock out more than a few teeth.
Are there some parts you’ll have to handwave away? Sure! There’s no way a psycho who kidnapped, sexually assaulted, and killed women would ever be up for early release, but right now he is and it doesn’t matter. Is it weird Sarah’s funeral is apparently the next day after she dies? Yup, but hey, we gotta get the ball rolling. Revenge waits for no one! There’s no sense in getting frustrated about the micro because the macro is covered in blood and brain matter and it’s a whole lot more fun to watch.
There’s also a lot going on musically in the film. It’s been called a ‘Rockstar Horror Opera’ and it’s not a bad comparison. From the presskit: The Retaliators features cameos and music by Mötley Crüe’s Tommy Lee, Five Finger Death Punch, Papa Roach, The Hu, Ice Nine Kills, Escape The Fate and many more, anchored by an original score from Emmy-winning composers Kyle Dixon and Michael Stein (Stranger Things).
The soundtrack is pretty epic and serves to accent all of the action that plays to the very end. Overall, while I will never watch this movie again, I actually would recommend it. If you’re looking for a fun gorefest that will have you cheering at the screen, then The Retaliators is for you!
Check out the trailer below and be sure to keep up with our coverage of Screamfest 2021!
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