T Blockers

T-Blockers (2024) Review

T-Blockers is Australian filmmaker Alice Maio Mackay’s followup to So Vam and Bad Girl Boogey. And right from the start, she lets viewers know this isn’t your typical creature feature with an introduction by Cryptessa, played by Etcetera Etcetera, who achieved fame on RuPaul’s Drag Race Down Under. This is shortly after revealed to be part of Terror from Below, a supposedly lost movie being watched by one of this film’s characters.

That character would be Spencer (Lewi Dawson, The Unrequited Life of Farrah Bruce, First Day) who’s watching it while helping calm down his roommate Sophie (Lauren Last) who is about to go on a date with Adam (Stanley Browning, Aquaphobe, Stanley’s Mouth), her first date since coming out as a trans woman.

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That doesn’t go quite as planned, and it’s about to become an even bigger problem for the roommates and their friends. Because just like in Terror from Below, a strange parasite has been unleashed and is infecting the town’s incels and other weak-minded folk, turning them into violent, zombie like creatures. And the rejected Adam is right in the middle of it, even happier to shed gay blood than the rest of the possessed.

T-Blockers is a chaotic and ambitious film that tries to cover a lot of ideas. On its face, it’s a horror film along the lines of Invasion of the Body Snatchers, Slither, or as the title of its film within a film suggests, David Cronenberg’s They Came from Within.

But along with that there are side plots involving Sarah’s struggles as an indie filmmaker, dating in the LGBTQ+community, club life, political oppression of minority groups and crappy, minimum wage jobs. Mackay and regular co-writer Benjamin Pahl Robinson are ambitious, but with a seventy-five-minute running time, there’s no way T Blockers can do justice to all these ideas.

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That even extends to the parasites themselves. They’re never made to seem very scary, despite their taste for violence and human flesh. Once our heroes band together as masked vigilantes, you might expect tense scenes of hunter and hunted stalking each other or fierce fights between the two groups. Instead, we get scenes of them easily killing the infected, who rarely even fight back. It may be quite cathartic for the filmmakers and those who have been on the receiving end of violence, but from a dramatic point of view it’s just dull and repetitive. That’s further compounded by T-Blockers’ poorly constructed action scenes and very sloppy fight choreography

The parasites work better as a metaphor for online disinformation and radicalization. The leader of the infected (Patty Glavieux, Mortal Kombat, Satranic Panic) tells Adam, “I used to get rejected. Now nobody rejects me.” which sounds like a line you would hear from Andrew Tate. Kris (Toshiro Glenn, [pseudonym], The House That Hungers) talks about an old friend who was radicalized after being exposed to Jordan Peterson and Ben Shapiro. The comparison is made very easy to see.

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Mackay, who was only 17 when she made T-Blockers, obviously wanted the film to resemble the punk rock that fills the soundtrack, fast, loud and somewhat sloppy. And she does succeed it catching that kind of energy. But it doesn’t entirely translate to narrative film. The script needs a bit more focus, a few less long, fetishistic shots of folk vaping and exhaling huge clouds, and/or about ten more minutes to flesh things out and do justice to the more important themes, such as Sarah’s relationships with her brother and father.

T-Blockers, while more interesting for its ideas than as anything scary, is worth a watch. The filmmakers do have the right idea, and I’m curious to see what Satranic Panic, Mackay’s already completed fourth feature, is like.

Dark Star Pictures released T-Blockers to VOD and Digital Platforms on March 5th.

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