The Retailators (2021) by Bridget Smith and Samuel Gonzalez Jr

On 09/20/2022, by Maurizio Buccella.

In: Metal Cinema.

There are several reasons why a film ends up in music magazines: either the cast includes more or less famous musicians, for sequences that go beyond the few minutes of the usual cameos with Marylin Manson or Alice Cooper; or the film has a scary soundtrack which, in general terms, tends to frame a given music scene; or the directing style reeks of video clips with most of the characters having a rock look and attitude, or at least they look like they’ve spent their last weekend working off a vodka and ketamine party; or, again, the film tells the musical vicissitudes of a musician or a band (see Control by Corbin or Lords of Chaos by Akerlund)

The Retailators (2021) by Bridget Smith and Samuel Gonzalez Jr covers the first three out of four points. For all those who have not stopped listening to metal after the release of Paul Di Anno from Maiden it will be easy to recognize, among the characters of the film, faces borrowed from groups such as Five Fingers Death Punch, Papa Roach, Ice Nine Kills and Motley Crue. As anticipated above, these are not cameos because the director was able to exploit the stage attitude to incorporate their stage presence into the overall aesthetic of the film without making them appear too much like silhouettes cut out of the sadomasochistic evenings of the Torture Garden (not that the actors “Real” are precisely the crème of the Actor Studio).

If the directing style is affected by the hyperkinetic patina suppurated under the totalitarian regime of MTV in the 90s, to an excellent extent aided by the OST in the odor of Nu Metal revival, the plot is apparently simple: when the daughter of the reverend protagonist, who seems the illegitimate son of Dolph Lundgren and Alec of Atari Teenage Riot, ends up killed for having been an accidental witness to shady trafficking, the man of the church goes on the trail of the killer, the evil giant Joseph Gatt, passing through gangs of bikers, murderers serials, even more psychopathic executioners than the criminals they hunt down, last but not least, with a horde of cannibals regressed to the cognitive functioning of the walking dead.
In the midst of the orgy of killings, accompanied by generous doses of splatter, the poor priest finds time to express some reflections on the Christian concept of forgiveness. Said this way it can look worse than he sounds. In reality, the film manages to maintain balance during the numerous sudden shifts from action to horror and from horror to action. The central value is the total absence of supernatural elements that, for hermetic reasons, always meet every time there are metal pieces in the OST (at least a handful of vampires, if they have the money for special effects maybe a demon escapes us. ). Rhythm worthy of the metal-based soundtrack, characters with little character but all in all sharp, constant tension from start to finish. What instead fails in misery are the clumsy attempts to map the descent into the underworld of the protagonist, who gradually slips into the underground world but parallel to the torturers object of his plans of revenge, a bit like Paul Schrader did in ‘Hardcore’ where George C. Scott, a fervent man of faith, plunges into the undergrowth of extreme pornography on the trail of his daughter.
In summary, The Retailators is like a Russian doll, with multiple concentric circles characterized by stylistic traits of similar but distinct genres, whose changes of scenery on several occasions save the film from muddy moments of stasis.

The Retailators (2021) by Bridget Smith and Samuel Gonzalez Jr