A Pastor is left wondering whether his forgive and forget belief is right after his daughter is murdered and a Police Officer urges him to get revenge.
I love that feeling you get when you discover a cult film that you just know is going to become a cult favourite. I had the feeling the first time I watched John Carpenter’s Vampires and the classic Freeway. Now I’ve got that feeling once again as I’ve just finished watching the brand new revenge thriller The Retaliators.
This film has been teasing me for a long time. I first heard about it when the first single from the soundtrack was released – a stunning piece of metal that consists of actual Mongolian throat singing from The Hu. Then in a recent interview on my heavy metal radio show Jacoby Shaddix of Papa Roach teased me a little about his work on the soundtrack and his role in the film as well. If anything I knew I was going to love the film’s soundtrack before I had even viewed the movie in its entirety.
Now after watching the film I can say this is more than just a movie with a killer soundtrack, this is not only one of the best revenge films, and hasn’t there been a few, to surface over the past few years. It also does enough to suggest that directors Samuel Gonzalez Jnr. (The Springfield Three) and Bridget Smith (Sno’ Babies) have huge careers ahead of them, although we already kind of knew that about Smith – after all her film Sno’ Babies was a masterpiece.
Plot-wise The Retaliators centres around Bishop (Michael Lombardi – Last Knights), a cool preacher whose daughter Sarah (Katie Kelly – Game Of Silence) is horrified that her Dad lets himself get pushed around by others all the time. Despite her father telling her that she needs to learn to forgive people more she points out to him that he needs to stand up for himself and his family every now and then.
Then the unthinkable happens. Bishop and his younger daughter, Rebecca (Abbey Hafer – Play Date), are devastated when Sarah is murdered by violent criminal and notorious drug dealer Ram Kady (Joseph Gatt – Dumbo). While Bishop once again wants to turn the other cheek hardened cop Jed (Marc Menchaca – Ozark) urges him to get revenge.
I won’t go into where the film goes from there as it would be a major spoiler but let’s just say that while the film is labelled a revenge thriller if you can’t really stomach horror then this isn’t the film with you.
Gonzalez Jnr. and Smith take this film into some pretty dark places but they are well guided by first-time screenwriters Darren and Jeff Allen Geare. While elements of this film take on the slaughter-house look of Rob Zombie’s House Of A 1000 Corpses the screenplay itself allows for characterisation and for the most part this film we see the dilemma that Bishop is going through. On the one hand he wants to do good but on the other he knows that his life has been changed forever because of the murder of his daughter.
Like Joel Schumacher’s 8MM this is a film that at times will repulse its audience but I found the most intriguing part of this film was that at times I found myself thinking ‘that is disgusting and immoral’ but at the same time wondering if I could ever be pushed to the same limits if a loved one was taken away from me. A film with a plot this intriguing and thought-provoking is normally written by a screenwriter at the top of their game, so to learn that this is The Geare Brother’s first film comes as a complete shock.
Also embracing the power of this film is Michael Lombardi. While most film-lovers would know Lombardi for his television work in Rescue Me and his extensive B-Grade film career it is here in The Retaliators that we see his theatre training get put to good use. Lombardi does have to become action hero from time-to-time as he fights for survival but for a good part of this film he also has to go deep inside a character that is being seduced by both the light and the dark and he does it amazingly well.
I found that there was so much to enjoy about this film that it was easily elevated far above most of the revenge films out there. From the great characterisation that comes through in the screenplay through to the fact that it is a film that will make you think about what you would do in these circumstances this is a film that needs to be considered one of the films of the year despite the genre that it is in. Add to that an amazing soundtrack, that I hunted down as soon as I could, and this is one cult film I am going to remember for a long time to come.