Frightfest Glasgow: Here For Blood (2023)

Director: Daniel Turres

Running Time: 100 Minutes

Starring: Shawn Roberts, Maya Misaljevic, Joelle Farrow, Samantha Helt, Kelly Penner, Tara Spencer Nairn, Michael Therriault, Dee Snider,

As the opening depicts a woman returning home while a masked intruder lies in wait, viewers are given the impression they're in traditional home-invasion territory. That's challenged when the scene cuts to a library, where college student Phoebe (Joelle Farrow) struggles to study for an exam and realises she cannot fulfil a babysitting commitment that evening. Her friends suggest that Phoebe gets her boyfriend to cover the job, with the student questioning his suitability. This leads to a fun introduction for Tom (Shawn Roberts), as the pro-wrestler is introduced mid-match while rock music plays.

Arriving at the isolated family home, Tom assures the parents he's suitable before meeting ten-year-old Grace (a charming Maya Misaljevic). His expectations for an evening of pizza and video games are thrown into turmoil, as a cult of masked intruders descend on the home to enact bloody chaos. Driving the story is writer James Roberts' fun twist on the home-invasion formula, where the baby-sitter perceived as the victim is actually a muscled wrestler. Central to it is a winning lead performance, as Shawn Roberts combats the imposing physicality with a lovable humanity and natural humour which prevents the central conceit from getting old.

With a set-up that's assured in how it twists genre expectations, the addition of supernatural elements feel unnecessary. These CG focused instances are less convincing, and raise questions regarding why the cult's powers of resurrection and powering-up their followers aren't used more often. While these masked members are merely bodies the protagonists must defeat, there's something stronger in the simplicity of what they can achieve. The strongest impression is left by the most frequently appearing member, who feels the most human as he's repeatedly beaten and humiliated across the night.

Director Daniel Turres breathes a knowing sense of goofiness and fun into the story, from the gruesome effects bringing alive the grisly kills, to a disembodied head voiced by Dee Snider yelling to be fed. There's much enjoyment to be had with these characters, especially when they debate whether to let Grace defend herself with a knife, although one wishes the proceedings got more tense as the body count rises. There's a sly wit to this home-invasion splatter-fest, as Tom fights a patriarchal cult intent on slaughtering young women for their own gains, making for a fun time that can be shared with friends over pizza and beer. Ideally, without masked intruders also appearing.

Here For Blood made its International Premiere at Frightfest Glasgow 2023