When you sit down to watch, Here for Blood (2022), you’re strapping in for a ridiculously camp, head-spinning funhouse ride.
Here For Blood plays at FrightFest Glasgow 2023, an arm of the U.K.’s largest international thriller, fantasy and horror film festival. It’s directed and fronted by Canadian talent. They include director Daniel Turres and fronted by Shawn Roberts, star of zombie classics including Land of the Dead (2005) and Resident Evil franchise (2010-2016).
Here for Blood leans into practical effects with splatterings of gore that recall excesses of the 1980s horror, like Gremlins and Evil Dead. It’s also full of sly digs at horror clichés. Who doesn’t watch a horror film and shout at the screen: ‘Don’t go in there!’ or ‘Don’t do that, please!’? Like summer camp horror films, this film revels in parodying all these dos and don’ts. If FrightFest Glasgow has a ‘Best Film to Watch with an Audience Award (preferably with pizza and after a few drinks), Here for Blood would win.
Amateur wrestler vs. masked invaders
The film kicks off when an amateur wrestler Tom O’Bannon (Roberts) covers a babysitting gig for his law-student girlfriend, Phoebe (Joelle Farrow), the night before her exams.
When he shows up at the rural house, yuppie parents Barb (Tara Spencer-Nairn) and Gil (Michael Therriault) leave him with the television, money for a pizza, and their daughter Grace sequestered in her room playing video games (Maya Misaljevic). It opens with a typical babysitting gig and a staple of slasher horror.
The first vicious turn comes when two strangers in preppy masks descend on the rural Home. This old-school horror trope, a middle-class home besieged by violent invaders, is remixed with Home Alone-style slapstick when the intruders meet a pro-wrestler instead of a teenage babysitter.
Tom finds himself fighting off the relentless invaders intent on kidnapping Grace for some obscure supernatural ritual that promises eternal life. The stand-off between Tom and the invaders is hilarious and outrageous. The audience can sit back and watch practical gore effects by The Butcher Shop FX studio take over the film.
Here for Blood and Horror Slapstick
Make-up and prosthetics put Turres’ schlock-fest in 1980s B-movie territory. In one scene, thanks to an unfortunately placed electric hob on a kitchen counter, one intruder gets a flesh-scorching burn that sears the skin on his face. This is just one of the prolonged sequences that the strongest supporting actor, Jesse Buck, milks for slapstick and comic potential. The assaults and injuries become more and more elaborate and agonizingly painful. By the night’s end, the intruders are probably in need of a hospital visit as well as a trip to the police station.
Films like Here for Blood, with villains wearing retro monster masks and over-the-top performances, need a resilient cast that will throw themselves into the script. Here for Blood is blessed with a cast of post-adolescent actors who have a great deal of fun parodying horror conventions. These conventions include the use of 30-something actors to portray nice-but-dim teenagers, the short-sighted actions of victims who thoughtlessly hurl themselves into risky scenarios, and the oh-so-predictable false alarm (caused by an ominous creak in the attic followed immediately by the inevitable ambush). With its relentless gore and violence, Here for Blood is likely to be regular Halloween film viewing.
Here for Goofy Gore
Here for Blood is not without its drawbacks. The film’s running time of 1 hour and 40 minutes is too long to sustain the head-spinning alternation between laughs and scares. This length dilutes some of the later gags, including a cameo from Twisted Sister’s Dee Snider in the form of a cannibalistic skull that is central to the bandits’ ritual. Other drawn-out sequences also make heavy work for the actors, and the weaker, more tired lines (‘Fuck me, it’s a zombie’) pepper the final scenes.
Such a long-winded running time risks losing the audience, and sections of the film become a hazy blur rather than making a lasting visual impression. However, when reviewing a film like Here for Blood, the bottom line is its humor. Is it funny? And is the humor in balance with the horror? Yes, to both. It’s not as searingly memorable as iconic horror comedies like Shaun of the Dead and their tongue-in-cheek nods to pop culture. But it avoids the tired wheezes of later entries in franchises like Scary Movie. Despite the baggy editing in certain pockets of the film, Here for Blood delivers confident gore and enough daft moments to make it work as an escapist horror-comedy.
To appreciate the glee and energy of the film, you need to be a sleaze-ball horror fan familiar with multiple types of horror. These include zombie apocalypse films and home-invasion horror. If you are such a fan, Here for Blood will deliver the goods for you.
Christina Brennan is writer and reviewer whose work has appeared in various places, including Little White Lies, Horror Homeroom, Horrified and Ghoulish Media. Her book George Sluizer’s film The Vanishing) will be published in 2024. She’s been a reviewer for the Salem Horror Film Festival and the FrightFest Film Festival: Author | Christina Brennan | United Kingdom (drchristinabrennan.com).