The Retaliators Movie Review

Written by Joel Harley

Released by Better Noise Films


Directed by Samuel Gonzalez Jr. and Bridget Smith
Written by Darren Geare and Jeff Allen Geare
2021, 97 minutes, Not Yet Rated
FrightFest World Premiere on 30th August 2021

Michael Lombardi as Bishop
Marc Menchaca as Jed
Joseph Gatt as Ram Kady
Katie Kelly as Sarah


A hunky, down-with-the-kids pastor discovers a world of creepy hitmen and underground torture basements when his daughter is horribly murdered. Pastor Bishop (Michael Lombardi) is a cool guy, but also a straight-laced one. Refusing to stand up to queue jumpers and assholes, he’s an unlikely candidate for the next Mister Vengeance. When his daughter (Katie Kelly) stumbles into the path of a sadistic killer, the Pastor’s forgiving nature will be sorely tested. Enter shady cop Jed (Marc Menchaca), with an even shadier proposition, and the ultimate test of Pastor Bishop’s faith.

the retaliators 01 the retaliators 02

No quiet rumination on vengeance, this. Veering wildly between gory horror film and melodramatic revenge thriller, it bears more in common with the distinctly unusual vengeance pictures of Park Chan-Wook and South Korea than any Death Wish. Samuel Gonzalez Jr. and Bridget Smith’s horror thriller sets Pastor Bishop down a familiar path, into territories altogether less well-trod. There are even zombies, or at least creatures which resemble them.

Between Bishop and the hard-boiled Jed, there are a lot of dead women driving the plot of The Retaliators. The film’s directors and writers (Darren and Jeff Allen Geare) have the good grace not to be gratuitous about their murders, putting the focus on Bishop and the dark journey ahead of him. Between Lombardi, Menchaca and Joseph Gatt – as the sadistic killer Ram Kady – that’s a lot of macho, of varying flavours (including a cameo from Prison Break's Robert Knepper). Bishop’s (d)evolution from mild-mannered priest to action man is a predictable arc (see also: Doug in The Hills Have Eyes), but his journey there is anything but.

the retaliators 03 the retaliators 04

More than that, The Retaliators is also a Christmas movie and a movie in which its main character takes time out to express his crisis of faith through music montage. It’s a shame that the filmmakers couldn’t get a bit of Evanescence on the soundtrack – the movie is only a blast of ‘My Immortal’ or ‘Bring Me To Life’ away from achieving full mid-noughties in its pop metal vibes (see also: 2003’s Daredevil).

The off-the-wall plotting, unpredictable scares and violent finale all combine to make The Retaliators more than the sum of its parts. Male vengeance stories are nothing new, and neither the film’s two directors nor its two writers have anything revolutionary to say on the subject. Instead, it distracts from the contents of the refrigerator (women) with its dark affectations. Rammed chock full of psychopaths, Christmas trees and jarring musical montages, The Retaliators emerges as one of the oddest revenge movies in years.


Movie: 3 Star Rating Cover

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Joel Harley
Staff Reviewer
Haribo fiend, Nicolas Cage scholar and frequently functioning alcoholic. These are just some of the words which can be used to describe Joel Harley. The rest, he uses to write film criticism for Horror DNA and a variety of websites and magazines. Sometimes he manages to do so without swearing.
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