What I'm Watching: Blood Hunters
(Oh holy hells! This was supposed to post after the Ouija Experiment reviews, and I totally forgot! Enjoy it now!!)
I barely survived the Ouija Experiment experiment, and I really needed another movie to cleanse my mental movie palette. I didn't know if Blood Hunters was gonna fit that bill, but it looked promising. At the worst, it looked like a fun campy creature feature with pseudo vampires or something.
The movie is about a young single mother who has her share of problems, namely a drug addiction that is constantly driving a wedge between her and her young son. But one day she passes out after shooting up, and her troubles are only just beginning. Because she then wakes up in a strange place, a hospital, and oh! She's now pregnant. Not how anyone wants to start their day, right?
She frees herself, and Ellie pulls a Rick Grimes when she finds everyone in the hospital is dead in a most bloody fashion. Eventually she does find another survivor, and another, and a couple others along the way.
This leads to the small group trying to figure out where they are, why they're there, why Ellie is pregnant, and oh most importantly! what in the holy hell are those creatures in this facility that killed everyone??
And the journey to find those answers is actually pretty satisfying. The story is well thought out, with everyone having a piece of the puzzle, especially considering they find an intern who worked there and knows quite a bit.
The ultimate metaphysical nature of the creatures is maybe a bit too vague for my liking, but I do like it being almost an extension of ideas from movies such as Flatliners, and going that added step of things actually coming through.
And rolling with the idea of 'they're already dead and can't die' does raise the stakes nicely to the threat of these things escaping into the real world.
Also, the creatures have one of the most striking, unique, and memorable looks. They're part vampire, part alien grey, part skull, and just the right side of looking wrong and in no way natural. I almost feel like they could have pushed things just a bit further, but I also fear that could have easily gone too far. If they had done something like the overdone quirky twitchy blurred movements, it would have upped the inhumanity of them, but also looked silly and overdone. I wanted more, but I feel like they did what is probably just the right amount, at the end of the day.
All the characters in this movie are well fleshed out, given some depth, and manage to be well realised with good character moments, amidst all the horror. The movie strikes a very good balance and I never felt like the plot stalled completely to tell us about the people and make us care. A large part of this comes from a constant feeling of threat and atmosphere that keeps it going, even when the characters give some infodump. It also works because the reasons we care, their reasons for being, are fairly integral to the plot, so the character stuff isn't just flavour and background, it's important.
The ending goes with some of my favourite ideas, as there is a lot of sacrifice going on, some genuine heart as character arcs come to a head, and a lot of blood. It takes a lot, or it takes some certain buttons to make me cringe, and this movie got me going at a few moments.
There is also some good questions of faith that run throughout the movie, since we're dealing with death, what comes after, and the facility has a priest on hand; on the one hand to deal with any religious matters the doctors may need such as last rites and confessions and whatever, and also to have his own input into the questions the experiments are raising that science can only make a giant shrug and go, "I'unno." It also doesn't hurt that the priest is played by the great Canadian character actor, Julian Richings.
My biggest complaint is that while the Blood Hunters are great visually, and nicely unique (I am a sucker for original stories and creatures, we need more!) they don't do too much but lurk, and strike quickly. The payoff of their threat isn't quite realised, but I don't think it needs to be. The characters are solid, and their payoffs are the real heart of the movie. This is a character story with horror elements to it.
I definitely recommend Blood Hunters. It's a low budget, very simple story, but told amazingly well, with good characters, and some solid effects, with unique looking creatures who may not do much at the end of the day, but definitely still leave an impression.