We all love horror. We even have our favorite sub-genre of horror, one that we just can’t get enough of. Personally, I go through phases; One month, I’ll watch nothing but slasher flicks. Another month, it’ll be just found footage films for yours truly. Still, there is one sub-genre that I will never say no to. That is the revenge film. For this reason alone, I could not pass up the opportunity to watch Ludwig and Paul Shammasian’s Retaliation.
After a night at the pub with his closest friends, Malky (Orlando Bloom, The Lord of the Rings trilogy) is confronted with a man from his past. Now he must relive his childhood trauma all over again and find peace at any cost before it ruins his life for good.
I need to start off this review by being completely honest with you guys. This film is in no way a horror movie. It does indeed deal with some very horrific events, but it does not fit the mold of a “horror movie” whatsoever. I am actually hard-pressed to even categorize it as a thriller, as the plot synopsis on the home release claims. If you are still interested in learning my thoughts, please continue. I invite any and all readers here, of course. If not, though, I completely understand.
Written by Geoff Thompson and directed by brothers Ludwig and Paul Shammasian, Retaliation is a drama film set in the UK. Originally released as Romans, it is based off of a short film directed by the brothers ten years earlier, in 2007. It deals with childhood abuse, a subject that many can relate to, but often times find hard to discuss, and rightfully so. It is not easy to talk about for anyone and I feel that the Shammasians, the cast, and crew have done a wonderful job telling their own story of this very real topic.
Retaliation is very much a character driven tale. It takes talented people to tell a story of this nature and that is exactly what you get in this 2017 drama.
The entire cast, from Janet Montgomery (Black Swan) as Emma to Alex Ferns (HBO’s “Chernobyl”) as Jo, do a tremendous job throughout the film’s 96 minutes. It is our main protagonist, Orland Bloom, who steals the show, however.
Delivering one of the most powerful performances I’ve seen in quite some time, Bloom is a treat to watch from start to finish. His portrayal of Malcolm aka ‘Malky’ is intense and raw, making me uncomfortable at times, angry at others. He never did cause me to sway from the notion that I wanted, no, I needed him to find the peace he deserved, however. Some of my only experience with Bloom comes from years ago with the Lord of the Rings trilogy, but the man has come a very long way from being the blonde Elf archer.
When acquiring my copy of Retaliation, I expected a good old fashioned horror revenge flick. Instead I got a drama film full of darkness and despair. Revenge of a certain kind is obtained, but it is completely different from what I am accustomed to. That is on me. I should have been more familiar with what I was getting myself into. I can say, however, that it was not a waste of time by any means and I am still happy that I experienced it. Because, really, that’s what this movie is — an experience.
I am not going to sit and pretend that I know what it is like to trust someone only to be betrayed in the most unexpected and vile way. I do think I am intelligent enough to make some inferences though. With that, I think both Ludwig and Paul Shammasian, along with writer Geoff Thompson, did a great job of telling an all too realistic story, depicting what a victim of this type of behavior may be still be experiencing all these years later. A lot of the ideas expressed in this film in fact do stem from Thompson’s own experience dealing with childhood abuse and trauma and it shows in his writing of Malky.
Even though Malky has longstanding relationships with several individuals — his best friend Jo, his mother, and his girlfriend Em — they are all strained in one way or another. He does not trust anyone, including himself, and he doesn’t think he will ever find peace. I’m not sure if anyone who has gone through the things which he has endured can ever truly find 100% of the peace they need, but it does come for Malky one way or another in the film’s final act.
Retaliation at Home
Retaliation is available now On Demand, DVD, and Blu-ray and Digital from Lionsgate. The new home release presents the R rated film in a 16×9 2.39:1 Widescreen format and has an English 5.1 DTS HD-Master Audio audio track. The disc also contains optional English SDH and Spanish subtitle tracks for the deaf and hard of hearing.
As far as bonus material is concerned, there is a commentary track with co-director Paul and Ludwig Shammasian, as well as a behind-the-scenes featurette entitled “Brutality and Honesty: The Making of Retaliation,” which dives into the film’s creation with interviews from cast and crew.
Retaliation is hard to watch and will be uncomfortable for a lot of viewers, as well it should be. Still, it is most certainly worth your time and I highly recommend it. The acting is flawless and the story is gripping in so many ways.
If you are a “horror only” fan, then I can’t rightfully recommend this one to you. If, however, you are simply a lover of all film, then Retaliation is not to be missed.
Be sure to grab a copy for yourself today, as I give this one 4 hammers out of 5.