Film - Blood Hunters

Character centred Canadian horror as Ren Zelen watched Blood Hunters at Frightfest...

Director: Tricia Lee
Writer: Corey Brown
Starring: Lara Gilchrist, Benjamin Arthur, Torri Higginson, Mark Taylor, Julian Richings, Samuel Faraci, Peter Blankenstein

Monsters have existed in storytelling since the dawn of time and are usually serve as a manifestation of our subconscious fears, anxieties and paranoias. One of our most common monster conceits corresponds to our distrust of scientists overreaching themselves, and daring to dabble dangerously with the notions of life and death. We fear the possible consequences of their hubris and ineptitude.

Director Tricia Lee’s 3rd genre picture, Blood Hunters (originally entitled One Drop) falls under this category as we find single mother, Ellie Barnes (Lara Gilchrist) waking up in a medical facility and discovering to her horror that, inexplicably, she is nine months pregnant.

She is further bemused and terrified to find that everyone else, doctors, nurses and patients, appear to be dead and mutilated. As she leaves her room in order to find help, out of the corner of her eye, she dimly perceives indistinct shapes scuttling through the shadows. They seem to be avoiding the light, and worryingly, the P.A system is announcing a countdown as to when the hospital generators will finally fail.

As she moves warily through the decimated facility she encounters other survivors: Henry (Benjamin Arthur) a patient who has been under quarantine, Marion (Torri Higginson) one of the hospital’s tech support team, George (Mark Taylor) a junior medic and Father Stewart, a priest (Julian Richings).

As the group struggles to find a means of avoiding the murderous creatures hiding in the dark recesses and escape the locked-down hospital, they discover the facility's secret – the doctors there have been tampering with the boundaries of death and managed to bring some people back to life. However, those who've returned, have not returned alone – they have bought something along with them, something that is afraid to enter the light - and Ellie is about to go into labour.

Director Tricia Lee has collaborated with screenwriter Corey Brown on two other genre films, Clean Break (Winner Best Drama Feature, Atlanta Horror Film Festival) and Silent Retreat (Winner Best Canadian Feature, Toronto After Dark Film Festival). Blood Hunters is their 2016 Canadian horror film whose original title was One Drop.

Lee creates an effectively tense atmosphere for the horror to unravel, but allows time for character development amongst the mayhem. The backstories of the various characters gradually unfold and we are given the chance to get to know their motivations and actually care what might happen to them.

Ellie’s birth scene is Cronenberg-like in its graphic surgical portrayal and fantastical body horrors, made all the more queasy and frenetic as the creatures simultaneously infiltrate the delivery room and attack the inmates.

The grotesque monsters which populate the dark recesses of the hospital appear kindred to the underground horrors of those the characters encountered in The Descent. We have some tense and gruesome skirmishes at close quarters with the bloodthirsty beasts, particularly during tech-wiz Marion’s desperate attempts to atone for her part in the disaster. The special effects belie their indie budget and the bleak location of the labyrinthine facility is well utilized.

There is some substance to Blood Hunters as well style, presenting us with some sympathetic characters that we can root for. The film also touches on notions of guilt, self-loathing, comradeship in adversity and sacrifice, amongst the various characters.

Blood Hunters has its world premiere in London on 29 August 2016 at the Horror Channel Fright Fest (famously described as ‘The Woodstock of Gore’ by Guillermo del Toro). Founded in 2000, Fright Fest it is now in its 17th year.

Copyright R.H. Zelen – ©RenZelen 2016 All rights reserved.

Image - IMDb
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