Cinema/TV, Film Notes

FrightFest review – T-Blockers

FrightFest review – T-Blockers

Australian trans teenager Alice Maio Mackey has alrewady made three feature films with few financial resources.  I’ve seen the vampire movie So Vam but haven’t yet caught up with the slasher Bad Girl Boogey.  Like So Vam, T-Blockers is a messy, personal film which doesn’t always gel but has so much going on that its downs are the price you pay for its ups.

It covers film buff genre fandom (drag artiste Etcetera Etcetera plays a Vampira type horror hostess in a film within the film) with trans community politics (pestered by chasers’ and persecuted by bigots but still trying to have a good time), what feels like a from-life portrait of a smarmy festival organiser out to scam LGBTQ+ filmmakers, club life messing about (with drugginess), and a story in which a B movie infects the real world Video Dead style as black alien worms turn folk into goo-dribbling right-wing zombies who persecute LGBTQ folk and their allies.  Lauren Last is fresh, funny and convincing as Sophie, an aspirant director who’s working in a cinema and careening through dating and social life with gal pals Storm (Lisa Fanto) and Spencer (Lewi Dawson).  Naturally, her everyday problems are set aside when the infection from the old movie turns the local transphobes into a shambling mob.  The gang fight back.

Mackey is committed to making movies about and for her own sub-cultures – as much Australian grindhouse as trans – but T-Blockers fits in alongside other young, female or queer meta-genre pieces from around the world (Emily Hagins’ My Sucky Teen Romance, Kate Shenton’s Egomaniac, Brad Michael Elmore’s Bit) in drawing on the history of horror and its fandoms to illuminate personal material.  The running time is just 75 minutes (which means that even when it drifts, it’s not dull) and the film has an unfinished feel – characters are set up then disappear, plot connections aren’t made, action scenes stutter undeveloped.  Maybe the cash ran out – or cast members got busy elsewhere.  Those are the risks of filmmaking with these kind of resources.  Still, it’s got a viewpoint, a vibrant look, wicked humour (yes, there’s a J.K. Rowling diss) and Mackay is obviously working a particularly personal set of interests.  She’s already working on another film, Satranic Panic



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