The cold open of TADFF’s closing night feature isn’t perfect. The shots feel cheap, the blood is too red, and the edit takes a bit too long to show us the victim’s scream. But what shouts “clunky, cheap, and bloody,” ends up quickly morphing into, “jaw shattering, inexpensive, and bloody.” Here for Blood is a thick hero’s slow walk to victory that passes through horror sub-genres like a jaunt through a neighborhood haunted house.
Tom O’Bannon (Shawn Roberts) is down on his luck, earning a measly twenty bucks for a night of wrestling. So is his girlfriend, Phoebe (Joelle Farrow), but she has a chance if she can balance studying for exams with her three jobs. To help her out, Tom agrees to take on her babysitting job for the night, keeping an eye on plucky young Grace (Maya Misaljevic) in her mother and stepfather’s lustrous home. Though initially reluctant, and with everyone expecting the beefcake macho man wouldn’t be good with kids, Tom is a natural at checking up on the kid and making her bedtime tea. Tom’s skills as a colossus with a hard punch come in handy when the house is descended upon by a group of masked killers looking to scoop up Grace. These killers look like your average scary movie psychos in decorated masks, but there’s more to their plot to kidnap Tom’s young charge. Lucky for Grace, this big guy doesn’t go down so easily.
This genre mashup disaster ends up tasting like one of those “garbage pail'' cookies. Adding zombies, cults, and slasher killers into this home invasion movie should be too much, but it eats like peanuts, chocolate, and pretzels baked into one delicious bite. The DIY nature of the low-budget flick, paired with the contrived plot and dialogue somehow render it charming in a “whatever it takes to get a wrestling match into a slasher movie,” kind of way.
While I can’t decipher director Daniel Turres’s connection to wrestling aside from some pop art drawings of wrestlers on his Instagram, this movie certainly has it in its blood. It leans heavily on Mr. Nanny, a flick that dropped Hulk Hogan into the role of a bodyguard slash babysitter who protects some kids from intruders. One of the prominently shown killers, Loverboy, is played by Channing Decker, a Toronto wrestler seen on Dark Side of the Ring. Roberts, not a wrestler himself, (per the film’s Instagram page) trained with Canadian wrestler, Tyson Dux, and it shows in the finale’s fight scene where we’re graced with a move or two. That said, it’s disappointing that with so much wrestling prowess stomping all over this movie, there’s a limited number of scenes featuring the fighting style. As soon as Loverboy rocks up looking like an 80s wrestling icon in a horror mask, you’ll be begging for the camera to pull back so you can watch some suplexes and chair drops. But that’s not the action the movie trades in, instead opting for some over-the-top camp gore intentionally evocative of The Evil Dead. The gross out sticky scenes and gushing wounds in a guerilla horror comedy would make Sam Raimi nod, and any suspicion of influences is confirmed when an undead head is yelling at the blood-soaked hero while he searches for tools in a shed.
Here for Blood is an immensely stupid and fun as hell genre bender by way of The Evil Dead, The Purge, and They Live. While it doesn’t interrogate toxic masculinity, it does examine machismo and fragility before leaning into the “dudes rock” of it all, letting fists be the secret weapon to saving the world. It bears the aesthetic of a made-for-tv romantic mystery, but when you can see through the fog, you’ll be gazing at the fruit of a movie lover’s labor. Maybe you won’t be submitting this silly horror-comedy for awards contention, but when you’re done, you might have to fight the urge to stand up on a folding chair, wave a Canadian flag and yell, “hell yeah, brother!”
Movie Score: 3/5