01st Sep2021

Frightfest 2021: ‘The Retaliators’ Review

by Chris Cummings

Stars: Katie Kelly, Joseph Gatt, Michael Lombardi, Marc Menchaca | Written by Darren Geare, Jeff Allen Geare | Directed by Samuel Gonzalez Jr., Bridget Smith

From its opening landscape shot of a forest complete with moody voice on top, The Retaliators looks very good indeed. There is definitely an energy reminiscent of a heavy metal music video here, in both sound and visuals, but it works well with the theme and the tone of the movie. Directed by Samuel Gonzalez Jr. and Bridget Smith and penned by the team of Darren Geare and Jeff Allen Geare, this is a good old revenge flick and boy-oh-boy do I enjoy a revenge flick.

There is something very bitterly precise about this, something that looks you in the eye and doesn’t look away, a solid sledgehammer to the face in the guise of vengeance. Gonzalez and Smith do a splendid job of bringing the blood, brutality and big bad vibes in swift and endless ways. I was definitely on board with that. It’s a revenge film that doesn’t shy away from its aim. Sarah Bishop (Katie Kelly), a young girl who just wants to enjoy her life, stumbles by pure misfortune upon a creepy bald guy named Ram (Joseph Gatt) who is one sausage short of a Full English Breakfast, who murders her in cold blood. Her father (Michael Lombardi), a local pastor, is destroyed by his daughters death and seeks vengeance. That’s the basic premise here, with Bishop jumping in to an underworld in order to find out who killed his child.

Gatt brings an intensity that stirs in each scene he’s involved in. A coiled spring waiting to flip. There’s a cold and callousness to him, an all-business mind coated with sociopathy. Bishop is different, played with a level of emotion by Lombardi that makes the character feel broken, like a man on the edge of his own reasoning, battling with his very being. It’s performances like these that make The Retaliators stand out, take it to the next level as more than just a revenge movie with some blood and teeth. It’s got a strong beating heart underneath all that too.

Bishop is approached by a Detective, Jed (Marc Menchaca), whose own darkened history holds similarities to Bishop. Jed offers Bishop an opportunity which leads him down a road in which there is no turning back (intense, huh?). If I’m being picky, I’d say that I wished that the flashback story about Jed and his hardships were told faster and without delay. This secondary angle felt forced in comparison to Bishop’s tale, and in the end it would have been a whole lot slicker a film overall had Jed’s story been less lengthy.

There’s an abundance of rock music involved here, too. Not only in the soundtrack but also in the cast. The likes of members of Five Finger Death Punch, Tommy Lee and Jacoby Shaddix from Papa Roach appear. It does give that rough metal edge to things and it works most of the time. There are moments where perhaps a lighter touch could have made things better, but that’s only a slight problem really.

This is an entertaining movie, without a doubt, and hits much more than it misses. Lombardi is terrific in his role, as is Gatt, and the crime-horror theme works well. There are sluggish moments from time-to-time, but they are rare and the film is general frantic and gruesome. A rockin’ flick with an old-school rhythm, The Retaliators is one to seek out, just make sure to have some paracetamol handy because your head may be banging more than usual.

**** 4/5

The Retaliators screened as part of this years Arrow Video Frightfest.


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