The Retaliators tells the story of pastor Bishop (Michael Lombardi), an example of nominative determinism and a family man who tries to set a good example for his congregation and his daughters. His principles are violently challenged when criminal Ram Kady (Joseph Gatt) brutally murders his eldest daughter Sarah (Katie Kelly) in a drug deal gone wrong. Jed (Marc Menchaca), the detective assigned to Sarah’s case and a victim of violent crime himself, offers Bishop a way to heal from his trauma, but this opens the pastor to a world of blood and violence that threatens to swallow him whole.
The Retaliators is not a particularly complex story – it follows a simplistic revenge narrative, contrasting Bishop’s lofty ideals with his earthly desires for vengeance in ways that fall just short of being compelling. All of the characters are fairly one-note, despite a lot of heavy lifting from a talented cast, and the film’s attitude towards women leaves a lot to be desired.
What the film does have is gore and heaps of it: what it lacks in storytelling chops it tries to compensate for with grisly action, great cinematography and excellent practical effects to satisfy its audience’s cinematic bloodlust. However, it takes a while for the feature to find its feet in this regard: the setup for the piece’s violent crescendo definitely takes its time, and the finale’s campy slasher antics clash tonally with the darker, grittier feel of the movie leading up to that point.
The movie seems to have something of an identity crisis, and it feels as if it’s trying to be several films at once: at different points, it’s a zombie flick, a crime thriller, an Evil Dead-style slapstick slasher and an examination of grief. This gives The Retaliators something of a scrappy underdog charm – but also makes for an inconsistent and disjointed viewing experience which might not resonate with every audience member.
Overall, The Retaliators is a messy flick in more ways than one, delivering a straightforward story bolstered by strong visuals and buckets of blood and guts. Its stylistic dissonance and inconsistent pacing are certainly acquired tastes that won’t land with everyone, but for moviegoers who want a gory experience and aren’t concerned with the strength of the script or different tones grappling with each other, there’s something to enjoy here.
The Retaliators is released in select cinemas on 14th September 2022.
Watch the trailer for The Retaliators here: