The brilliant Blood Hunters opens when Ellie (Lara Gilchrist) wakes up secured to a hospital bed in a locked room with eviscerated doctors all around her. Most shocking of all is the fact that she is now somehow suddenly 9 months pregnant.
The last thing she can remember is telling off her young son but after that everything is blank. Managing to get up and out of the room she sees she is surrounded by dead humans and strange hidden creatures lurking in the shadows.
Thankfully she is not the only survivor and soon she finds Henry (Benjamin Arthur) who is strapped down naked in another room. Confused amongst the chaos the pair find they must battle not only the deformed beings but their lack of any idea what is happening or how they ended up trapped.
It is down to the people they meet along the way on their escape attempt including technician Marion (Stargate’s Torri Higginson) medical intern George (Mark Taylor) and the religiously overzealous Father Stewart (horror film favorite Julian Richings) to fill them in, although what they learn makes the situation far more unsettling and unnerving than they or the audience could imagine.
Packed with sinister blood thirsty beasts and stir crazy characters Blood Hunters is a creature feature that gets the audience engaged from the off and doesn’t let go. Jumping straight in with an introduction akin to the very first episode of The Walking Dead or 28 Days Later director Tricia Lee builds up the story well never showing or revealing too much of either the monsters or the plot until necessary pilling on more fear than you might first expect.
Making the most of the well-constructed labyrinthine hospital facility location and the special effects Lee generates a palpable sense of dread and panic with her deft direction working wonderfully alongside the character driven script.
Although appearing like a straight monster horror storyline scriptwriter Corey Brown paints in believable and relatable characters, brought to life perfectly by the cast, that are much more human and flawed than the stereotypes found in many of these movies.
The set up alone with single mum Ellie mysteriously impregnated without her knowledge is great and her physical limitations add tons more tension to the situations she finds herself in many of which are relived with some great bickering banter between her and Henry giving everyone a much needed comedic break from the terror.
Added to all this Blood Hunters is also readable on a variety of levels with massively interesting musings on religion, life, death, birth, redemption and gender politics among other things all subtly included without detracting from the action or horror on offer.
Definitely one of the best films at FrightFest 2016 Blood Hunters is that rare beast of a movie that offers tons of on edge entertainment while managing to be extremely intelligent and emotionally involving as well.