My notes on Blood Hunters (aka One Drop) – which screens on Sunday (World Premiere)
Though basically a creature feature – owing a little to Chosen Survivors and I Am Legend – this has a unique set-up for bringing its monsters (which, in essence, are feral vampires) into the world. It also has an unusual heroine, who fits in with an unusual Frightfest blip this year – perhaps inspired by The Babadook or Mama – of tough mothers or pregnant survivors (Monolith, White Coffin, Under the Shadow, Enclosure, Karaoke Crazies, Here Alone, Shelley – even the previewed Prevenge).
Single mother Ellie Barnes (Lara Gilchrist) wakes up, tormented by vague memories of a bad thing happening, to find she’s heavily pregnant and in an underground science lab where she’s evidently been a test subject … most of the staff have recently been slaughtered by bloodthirsty things that shun light and are getting bolder and more dangerous as the back-up generator which keeps the lights on fails. She finds other survivors – Henry (Benjamin Arthur), another patient, who has psychic visions of other people’s deaths; Marion (Torri Higginson), a computer tech who has recently made a huge mistake which has precipitated this crisis; George (Mark Taylor), an intern who has had a hand bitten off by the monsters; and Father Stewart (genre regular Julian Richings), a priest with several hidden agendas who attests to the fact that the secret project had a spiritual as well as a scientific rationale. Worried about her son on the outside (Samuel Faraci), Ellie is also concerned for her baby – especially when Stewart lets slip that ‘none of the other mothers survived’ and she realises it’s likely to be a monster.
It turns out that the project involves bringing people back from the dead – and women who are revived all come back pregnant with a vampire. It’s an effective, familiar suspense-horror item with panicky, at-odds characters either trying to survive or working to bring about an apocalypse – among the gross-outs are a kitchen cauterisation of George’s wrist-stump which requires icky use of a spatula, while nervy sequences depend on flickering, guttering lights which encourage the monsters to get bolder. Gilchrist is good as the gutsy heroine, and everyone else at least inhabits their stereotype with conviction – with horrid fates for almost all the cast a certainty from the outset. Written by Corey Brown, directed by Tricia Lee.