Welcome to another installment of 31 Days of Halloween! This is our chance to set the mood for the spookiest and scariest month of the year as we focus our attention on horror and Halloween fun. For the month of October we’ll be sharing various pieces of underappreciated scary books, comics, movies, and television to help keep you terrified and entertained all the way up to Halloween.
The Retaliators throws up some red flags immediately. A horror movie whose marketing is just as focused on its soundtrack as its content is usually not a good sign, after all. The premise about a respected pastor named Bishop (Michael Lombardi) who is driven to seek vengeance after the murder of his daughter also does not promise much. Thankfully, shocking twists make the movie more watchable than it has any right to be.
This is a film that requires a lot of patience from the audience. The hard rock soundtrack will not appeal to everyone and usually sounds more goofy than anything else. As The Retaliators progresses, it includes cameos from hair metal icons and the lead singer of Papa Roach in a small, but prominent, role. Clearly, style is going to take precedent over substance.
The writing is shaky during the first act. The cliché dialogue is expected, the poor exchanges and lazy character names are laughable. When a pastor is named Bishop, the bar is set pretty low. Thankfully, The Retaliators is able to save things by seeming to realize where it’s strengths lie. From the opening scenes, it is obvious blood and gore are going to be prominent. A revelation from the local detective Jed (Mark Menchaca) kicks everything into high gear.
It is when things start to get hyper violent that the script is most comfortable with itself. The weak attempts at character study are pushed aside for more visceral moments The Retaliators seemed to want to prioritize from the beginning. (The idea of how far grief can drive a person is an interesting idea that is never fully explored.) This makes for an uneven tone, but it also leads to a better film.
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