Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Blood Hunters – review

Director: Tricia Lee

Release date: 2016

Contains spoilers

Regular readers will know that occasionally I start a review with the admission that I considered looking at the film as a “Vamp or Not?” When that is the case then we’re in for something unusual but, as is the case with the very vampirically named Blood Hunters, I felt that there was probably enough to keep us from that ‘Vamp or Not?’ and to accept the vehicle as part of the vampire genre from the start.

However, this is a somewhat unusual take on the genre (if they even realised that they were stepping into the genre) with a "creature feature" heart and a "science gone mad" soul. It is also somewhat unsophisticated in its narrative, but the idea is neat and a couple of the characters engaging.

So the film opens with drug use, as Ellie Barnes (Lara Gilchrist, Sanctuary & Blood Ties) takes a hit, but something goes wrong and she stumbles out of her house as she overdoses. We see medical equipment and blood through the credits and Ellie awakens but soon finds that she is restrained. A medic is nearby, but his guts are hanging from his body and he looks dead. She manages to fingertip grab a scalpel from a nearby table and free herself at which point she realises that she is, inexplicably, heavily pregnant.

waking in the facility
Searching the wrecked room, she finds a note about a c-section but she cannot leave, the door has a keycode. The medic comes round long enough to ask for drugs, she finds them, demands the keycode in return and then he dies. She takes some of the drugs herself. The medical facility is a mess; blood, bodies and wreckage festoon the corridors which are bathed in shadows as emergency lights barely illuminate the place. A tannoy talks about the back-up generator being low on power. Seeing the tattoo of the word Hunter on her wrist she relives a memory of her son (Samuel Faraci, Hemlock Grove).

Torri Higginson as Marion
Eventually she finds a man, Henry (Benjamin Arthur), who is in the same predicament as herself but he is quarantined. Her first instinct is not to go into his quarantine area but “something” threatens them. The creature runs off as a light is aimed at it. Henry, we discover, starts reliving other people’s deaths (and appears to have a seizure as he does so). It is when they find IT expert Marion (Torri Higginson, Forever Knight) that the truth starts to out and more so when they find intern George (Mark Taylor) and priest Father Stewart (Julian Richings, Forever Knight & the Last Sect).

a creature
Massive spoilers have to follow. The place is a secure experimental facility where they are studying death. They discovered that by stimulating a specific (memory orientated) part of the brain of a cadaver they could bring the person back to life. The experiments were done on female cadavers but all those revived came back suddenly pregnant. The pregnancy birthed the creatures now hunting them and the mothers all died (again). When born the creature soon cocoons itself and becomes a man-sized creature with black eyes, (what looked to me like) a leech like mouth and an unquenchable thirst for blood. They are hurt by light but are otherwise incredibly resilient. Henry is the first man whom the experiment was done on and, rather than bringing one back with him, he can access the moment of a person’s death and relive it.

seeking prey
The scientists don’t know how to explain the phenomena – hence drafting in a priest. Perhaps they would have been better to get a psychiatrist who might have recognised a physical manifestation of the id? Rather, Stewart spouts religious mumbo-jumbo about them being divine beings (given the priest’s opinion of Ellie, an overdose, and Henry, a suicide, perhaps it would have been more logical if he felt them to be infernal hitchhikers, riding the resurrected to our world). They heal incredibly fast and the point is made repeatedly that it is blood they seek. So, whatever they are (as the film doesn’t give a definitive position), they are part of a returning from the dead and they desire blood. In short, they are vampires.

Ellie and Henry
The story was interesting in concept but felt somewhat holey, or at least incomplete. The acting was generally functional but I did find both the Ellie and Henry engaging as characters. The creatures were mostly kept hidden but, despite claws and leech mouths, I didn’t buy their ability to destroy the facility. Whilst they seemed powerful, one character manages to incapacitate a whole group of them and one wonders why no one else could… in fact one wonders why there was no security in place. There was little sense of scare, sadly a missing element in a horror. However, despite that, I liked the concept. 4 out of 10.

The imdb page is here.

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