Dir. Samuel Gonzalez Jr., Michael Lombardi, & Bridget Smith (2022)
When his daughter is brutally murdered, a pastor seeks bloody vengeance.
CAUTION: MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS
The binding thread between rock and horror existed even before John Michael Osbourne took the name Ozzy and named his band after a Mario Bava flick. There have been songs with horror-themed lyrics as far back as rock music has existed, and some bands even choose to wear masks or even full outfits to achieve a terrifying aesthetic. The Foo Fighters recently tried their hand at horror comedy, and on the other side of the serious scale comes the upcoming The Retaliators, a film that delves pretty deeply (and disturbingly) into the revenge side of the genre.
Bishop is a pastor with two daughters, and he tries his best to provide the best example possible to his growing kids. He turns the other cheek when he is publicly assaulted and uses the lesson learned in his sermon the next day. When his daughter is horrifically murdered, however, the limits of his forgiveness are pushed to their limits. The drug-fueled world of mayhem and terror that he finds himself thrust into is less forgiving than he is, and he must fight for his life to find his way out in what is the most brutal movie I’ve seen this year.
The film is filled with talented actors that you know from other places: Rescue Me’s Michael Lombardi is the lead while the film also stars Ozark’s Marc Menchaca and Game of Thrones’ Joseph Gatt. Hell, even Brian O’Halloran from Clerks has a cameo role. The big surprise of the film’s cast, though, is how many rock stars they managed to jam into the film and who all, without exception, did a fantastic job in their roles. Band members of Papa Roach and Five Finger Death Punch fill out the cast, and Motley Crue’s legendary drummer Tommy Lee joins O’Halloran in a cameo role as a strip club DJ, a role perhaps even more appropriate for him than drummer.
The film isn’t all hits. There are a few heavy handed scenes that are a bit too dramatically framed to be as effective as the rest of the film and the story is at times disjointed, but by and large it’s a fantastically told tale of revenge from a man who seems least capable of exacting it. It’s been a long time since I’ve been asked to review a film with a fucking theatrical release, and by God I could get used to this. Top notch cinematography and some stellar acting make the film a blast to watch, and there are some truly great scenes of batshit crazy carnage. It also has, without a doubt, the most brutal death I’ve seen in 2022, which will always be a plus in my book.
Who this movie is for: Revenge thriller lovers, Fans of big budget gore, Those about to rock
Bottom line: Gutsy and gory with some serious star power for a horror/revenge film, The Retaliators is not to be missed. The revenge genre has far more misses than hits, but this one ends up firmly in that latter category.