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Here for Blood (2022) Review – FrightFest

Here for Blood is the latest in a long line of crossovers between professional wrestling and the horror genre. From Mexican films like the Santos franchise and The Wrestling Women vs. The Aztec Mummy through Wrestlemassacre, From Parts Unknown, and The Manson Brothers Midnight Zombie Massacre. And that’s not to mention the even longer list of wrestlers who’ve appeared in genre films.

Phoebe (Joelle Farrow, Webcam Cheerleaders, Level 16) is in a bind. Juggling three jobs plus college has her burnt out, but she has a babysitting gig and an exam looming up at her. One of her friends suggests she get her boyfriend Tom (Shawn Roberts, Campton Manor, Tainted) to babysit. Another suggests she doesn’t because they can’t imagine he’s kid friendly.

A few moments later we see why they might think that as we see him at work beating the crap out of someone. Tom’s a professional wrestler, currently working on the indie circuit and after some token objection “Guys don’t babysit, girls do.” he agrees. Besides, after getting $20 for the match, they can use the money.

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Director Daniel Turres (Terry’s Car Gets Stolen) and writer James Roberts lay down a setup that, if not for the opening murder, would have you thinking of films where Hulk Hogan, John Cena, or The Rock ends up playing guardian angel to some obnoxious brat. The amusing meet the parents routine doesn’t help dispel that feeling, but it isn’t long before trouble, in the form of a murderous cult, arrives.

It’s tempting to refer to Here for Blood as Home Alone with hardcore rules, I can just hear the announcer “Deaths count anywhere in the building!” The first cultist we see looks like Sting, the wrestler, not the singer, which only reinforces that idea. But when the film cuts from a friendly pizza delivery guy choking on his own blood to Tom’s charge Grace (Maya Misaljevic, Letters to Satan Claus, PJ Masks: Power Heroes) choking on a cookie it’s obvious this was going somewhere darker, and bloodier.

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Here for Blood is several other things with varying shades of darkness, it shifts between various horror tropes from home invasion, Tom initially thinks they’re a bunch of perverts after Grace and Pheobe, to a full-blown supernatural bloodbath. And by the time The Head, voiced by Dee Snider from the band Twisted Sister and the movie Strangeland, shows up it resembles Rowdy Roddy Piper Meets The Evil Dead.

Actually, Roberts looks a bit like John Cena, only he can actually act as well as fight. He’s a great lead for a film like this, he looks convincing trading punches with his opponents, be they man or demon. And he’s convincing when he resorts to wrestling moves, such as repeated elbow drops on a zombie. He and Misaljevic also have a great rapport that helps sell even the most unbelievable moments in the film. The whole cast is actually quite good. For only his second film, Turres does a great job of getting solid, and frequently funny, performances from the cast rather than ones as over the top as the action and gore surrounding them.

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And that gore is well over the top. Carlos Henriques, who has delivered solid work in films as varied as Reel 2, The Woodsmen, and Astonishing Tales of Terror: Rocktapussy! He and his crew at Butcher Shop FX deliver decapitations, stabbings, burning flesh, flesh eating and spray blood everywhere via excellent practical effects.

A film that could have gone either way, especially in the hands of a first time writer and second time director, Here for Blood is the kind of surprise that keeps me watching indie horror. It’s a wonderfully entertaining mix of gore, scares, and laughs that deserves to be seen once it finds distribution.

Here for Blood is currently playing the festivals, most recently at this year’s FrightFest.

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