The Retaliators (2021) [Screamfest 2021] 

A pastor loses his daughter to a violent killer. After the justice system fails, he is approached by someone who may have a solution. 

Written by Darren Geare and Jeff Allen Geare and directed by Samuel Gonzale Jr. and Bridget Smith, the film is interesting and entertaining enough, but does feel a bit uneven. Maybe a case of two directors with two visions or a case of too much thrown in one film. The film starts with two girls in a van, trying to not get lost in the countryside. Soon comes someone covered in blood and deaths follow quickly. This leads the viewer to think it’s perhaps a slasher. Then a few minutes later, a few more people arrive and it looks like a horde type of attack, so perhaps a “cannibals in woods” film? Perhaps not. Things turn to a pastor and his daughter and the cameo fest gets on pretty fast with Brian O’Halloran in a 2 minutes part. After this, it’s clear the film is about the pastor and when his oldest daughter gets killed. From there, the film mixes family drama, grief, and revenge. It’s a bit all over the place at times, but ends up being a decently put together film nonetheless. The fact that is entertains is the most important here. 

The cast is led by Michael Lombardi as Bishop, the grieving father who is a bit lost in what to do. His performance here is decent, it works for most of the film with a few scenes where the feelings get a bit lost and things go a bit off track. Generally though, his work is decent here. Playing the detective assigned to the case is Marc Menchaca as Jed. His work is also decent, a bit of a theme with the performances here. Everyone seems to be doing decent with a few scenes here and there that don’t quite work or fit in. Throughout the film, heavy music fans will notice the presence of a few familiar faces including Five Finger Death Punch members, Jacoby Shaddix of Papa Roach, and even Tommy Lee. These cameos/extended cameos feel a bit forced at times and do not bring much to the film itself besides names to put on the poster. They are not bad, but they are also not exactly given time to give a real performance.  

In terms of the film’s look, it looks like a nice mid-range budget film with decent framing, lighting and editing. The work here is something that fits right with the genre and the story, without having many amazing sequences. The film looks good and the action is clear throughout so that is definitely on the upside considering a lot of horror movies released recently. However, a bit more style to the scenes could have really elevated this one. 

The Retaliators is a horror film that is a decent watch, most of the elements like acting, effects, and images are good, but it’s not exactly breaking any new ground or any genre rules. It’s an entertaining watch, but not something that will stick with the viewer long term. This may be a must-see for fans of the musicians involved, but for those who are unfamiliar with them, it may not be a priority watch this season.