The Retaliators (2021) Movie Review

The Retaliators – Violent Delight

Director: Samuel Gonzalez Jr, Bridget Smith

Writer: Darren Geare, Jeff Allen Geare (Screenplay)

Starring: Michael Lombardi, Marc Menchaca, Joseph Gatt, Ketie Kelly, Abbey Hafer, Jacoby Shaddix, Robert Knepper

Plot: An upstanding pastor uncovers a dark and twisted underworld as he searches for answers surrounding his daughter’s brutal murder.


Tagline – Sometimes Its Better To Keep Evil Alive

Runtime: 1 Hour 37 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Story: The Retaliators starts when Pastor John Bishop (Lombardi) reluctantly lets his daughter Sarah (Kelly) attend a party, but that night will see her brutally murdered after being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Bishop distraught by the events of that night wants answers, with Detective Jeb Sawyer (Menchaca) leading the investigation.

The investigation will lead them to a criminal organisation run by Otto (Knepper), which is only the beginning of the big nightmare about to be unleashed on everyone searching for answers.

Thoughts on The Retaliators

Characters & Performances – Pastor John Bishop is a mild-mannered man raising his two daughters, the whole town will support him, with his speeches motivating the whole town. When his eldest daughter is murdered, he turns to the bottle, before being put in a place he would never imagine. Michael Lombardi is impressive in the leading role, showing the full range of emotion needed to get through the film. Jed is the detective leading the investigation into the murder, he is cold about his approach, taking John under his wing to offer him a chance to overcome the pain. Ram Kady is the cold-hearted killer that uses his size to get jobs done and will do anything to keep his name clean. We do meet plenty of different characters with Quinn Brady the serial rapist played by Papa Roach’s Jacoby Shaddix getting his first acting role. Each character will add something to the film, even if one set of characters does feel more like they could have had a bigger impact on everything going on, with the performances shining through.

StoryThe story here follows a grieving father who wants answers for his daughter murder, where a detective will offer him an entry point to the underworld of the local city. This is a film that does have a large number of things going on, so much so that at times certain chapters will feel out of place, because once we get into the main focus of what happened to create the opening sequences, we have such a treat waiting for us. The idea of what is going on does bring us a twisted concept, one that we could have seen plenty more from, instead of one side of the film, which didn’t fit the overall tone of this violent moments.

ThemesThe Retaliators is an ultra-violent action horror, that just doesn’t hold back on the brutal fighting, despite having exceptional special effects, including one moment that will make you turn away in disgust. The film does have a crime side, which takes us into the horror side of the film and it is something we haven’t or if we have very rarely seen before.

Final Thoughts The Retaliators is a relentlessly violent horror that shines through the final act.

Angie: Lost Girls (2020) Movie Review ‘Chilling Message’

Angie: Lost Girls – Chilling Message

 

Director: Julia Verdin

Writer: Janet Odogwu, Julia Verdin (Screenplay)

Starring: Jane Widdop, Anthony Montgomery, Lindsey Da Sylveira, Olivia D’Abo, Randall Batinkoff, Dyland Sprayberry, Marty Dew Cherie Jiminez

Plot: After escaping from a sex trafficking ring, one teenage girl struggles to reconnect with herself and her family. To rescue her helpless friends, she must confront her own fears and help lead the police to her traffickers – at all costs.

Runtime: 1 Hour 48 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Story: Angie: Lost Girls starts when Angie Morgan (Widdop) a high school musician whose has always had the reputation of being a good girl, suddenly goes missing after her latest show. Angie is dragged into an underworld of sex trafficking, while her parents Hayley (d’Abo) and Dan (Batinkoff) desperately search for her.

After Angie finds her way out of this world, she struggles to connect to her old life, her family, constantly looking over her shoulder in fear of her captors finding her.

Thoughts on Angie: Lost Girls

Characters & Performances – Angie is the 16-year-old high school student that finds herself with a new boyfriend, saying everything to make her feel special, only to learn he has been preparing her to take into the sex trafficking world. Forced to perform with threats, she is left feeling helpless, terrified, and alone. She gets put through the horrors of the world before escaping, living in even more fear than before, fearing they will come back to find her. Jane Widdop gives us an incredible performance, one that starts with the enjoyment of life, before showing us the shattered life she is going through. Hayley and Dan are the overly busy parents that don’t seem to know everything Angie is doing, before doing everything they can to get her back and help her with her recovery, while feeling just as helpless. Chase is the detective who is trying to take the ring down before they have more victims, he is doing everything he can, despite being left in the middle of knowing he can’t push Angie for more information. We have the leading members of the ring, Ida and Deacon who will use every trick in the book to make the young girls and women believe that they have no choice by to stay with them. The performances from the supporting cast are all great, with each performer bringing their characters to life.

StoryThe story here follows a teenage girl that is kidnapped into the sex trafficking world, where she is forced into countless encounters, having threats to keep here there, before her escape, where we see the fear she continues to live in. This story is putting a firm message about the dangers in everyday life and how the sex traffickers can find their victims, offering them promises that will lure them away from their life. The story has a chilling way to show how easily the victims can be manipulated to remain in the horrors of the world. This is going to be one of the hardest watches of the year, with every sequence Angie is going through, will leave you feeling broken, just like the character.

ThemesAngie: Lost Girls is a drama that is showing how the sex traffickers operate in the world, it will show the environments they work in, show how secure they will make their world. This will give us moments of suspense as we see how the girls will try to escape this world, showing the dangers involved that they will be facing.

Angie: Lost Girls will be released on UK Digital Download and On Demand from 13th September.

Final Thoughts Angie: Lost Girls is a disturbing movie that will leave a haunting impression.

Knocking (2021) Movie Review ‘Tense Thriller’

Knocking – Tense Thriller

 

Director: Frida Kempff

Writer: Emma Brostrom (Screenplay) Johan Theorin (Novel)

Starring: Cecilia Milocco, Albin Grenholm, Ville Virtanen, Krister Kern, Alexander Salzberger, Charlotta Akerblom

Plot: A woman leaves a psychiatric ward after a nervous breakdown, only to start hearing mysterious knocking sounds in her apartment.

Runtime: 1 Hour 18 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Story: Knocking starts as we meet Molly (Milocco) a woman who has just checked out of a psychiatric ward after dealing with an emotional loss, returning to her home in an apartment complex. As Molly looks to settle down in her new environment, she starts to hear knocking coming from the surrounding apartments, leading her to start investigating her new neighbours.

As Molly starts to believe something criminal is happening around her, she starts to find herself building her own narratives around her neighbours, leaving us wondering if she is right, or if the medication isn’t working correctly.

Thoughts on Knocking

Characters & Performances – Molly is the woman who has lost someone close to her, leaving her inside a psychiatric ward, with her getting released to try and rebuild her life. She gets an apartment where she can look to try and fix things, but finds herself getting obsessed by knocking believing somebody is in trouble. She looks for help, but gets none, leading her down the path of trying to find out the truth herself, re-living her own nightmare as motivation for the truth. Cecilia Milocco is tremendous in the leading role, taking up every scene of the film with her ability to show the uncertainty her character is going through. When we look at the supporting cast, we get a mix of the doctors who helped Molly and the potential suspects that live in the apartment building, each one we only get to learn the same as Molly, keeping us within her viewpoint of the character.

StoryThe story here follows a woman that has been released from a psychiatric hospital that is looking to put her life back together, only to find herself tormented by knocking from another apartment in the building. This is a story that shows the character Molly needing to restart her life after her own loss, we get plenty of signs of rebirth through sequences that Molly experiences, with the nagging sense something isn’t right in the building being the one thing holding her back from putting her past behind her. The story is presented in a way that Molly is playing detective, without getting to have the non-accusation conversations with her neighbours, which will continue to present her as distant from everyone else around her. The story will keep you hooked, as you do want to know the answers to the big main questions both from the past and the present.

ThemesKnocking is a psychological thriller that will continue to keep you guessing as to what is going on, as the tension feels like it can be cut with a knife, as Molly starts to find her potential new life crashing down around her, wanting to save someone. This is helped by keeping most of the intense scenes within the apartment, only letting the investigation moments occur outside with the minor interactions.

FrightFest Presents and Signature Entertainment present Knocking at FrightFest 29th August and on Digital Platforms 15th November

Final Thoughts Knocking is a tension filled thriller that will keep the unease of every scene front and centre of the film.

Bloodthirsty (2020) Movie Review

Bloodthirsty – Slowly Fizzles Out

 

Director: Amelia Moses

Writer: Wendy Hill-Tout, Lowell (Screenplay)

Starring: Lauren Beatty, Greg Bryk, Katharine King So, Judith Buchan, Michael Ironside, Jesse Gervais

Plot: Grey is an indie singer who is having visions that she is a wolf. When she gets an invitation to work with notorious music producer Vaughn Daniels at his remote studio in the woods she begins to find out who she really is.

Runtime: 1 Hour 24 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Story: Bloodthirsty starts as indie singer Grey (Beatty) gets a chance to work with a notorious music producer Vaughn Daniels (Bryk) in a remote studio in the woods, where she is joined by her girlfriend Charlie (So).

As Grey starts to make the best music of her career, she starts seeing the changes in her mind as she slowly starts to transform into something different, something from her visions.

Thoughts on Bloodthirsty

Characters & Performances – Grey is an indie music star that is struggling with her latest album, which will see her turn to an estranged music producer to bring out her best. She has been suffering from visions and the more time she spends in the producers the home, the more vivid they become. She starts to go through a transformation, one she can’t control, or one she is looking to embrace. Lauren Beatty does bring us a great character filled with the innocence of the unknown in her changes. Vaughn Daniels is a notorious music producer who methods have often been questioned with the story of a death of a star before. He knows how to bring the best out of the talent, but deep down he has his own agenda for bringing Grey to his studio. Greg Bryk does give his character all the menace needed, making us feel uncomfortable in most of his scenes. Charlie is Grey’s girlfriend that doesn’t believe she should be part of this process worried about Vaughn’s reputation.

StoryThe story here follows a young singer that is given a chance to work with a notorious producer, only for her own visions to start to take over her, leaving her to decide whether she wants to follow her dreams in the music industry or lose control herself. This is an interesting story that will dive into the balance between dreams of success and falling into animal tendencies. It will give us the slow development in changes as success starts to come, while the uncertainty involved in the changes comes out in a more dangerous way. This could have dived into the more into the transformation, as it does feel like we have a bigger moments of the history behind what has happened with Vaughn before, instead of the same story with minor changes to reveal the truth. If we look at the singing side of the film, while the performance involved is strong, we don’t learn enough about where Grey is currently standing in the music world.

ThemesBloodthirsty is a horror thriller that will see the transformation an upstart singer starts to go through while producing their latest album, it will dive into one of the more popular movie monsters, without getting close enough to the full impact of what they are becoming. The location does keep us away from the rest of the world with how the woodland area can bring the calm away from the busy world.

Signature Entertainment presents Bloodthirsty on Digital Platforms & DVD 30th August

Final Thoughts Bloodthirsty is a horror that doesn’t scare, and leaves us feeling like we wanted more.