Horror-comedy Here For Blood features Shawn Roberts (of the Resident Evil franchise) as Tom O’Bannon, an all-around good guy who has a solid reputation in the world of wrestling and only shows a smidge of an attitude when his girlfriend Phoebe (Joelle Farrow) asks him to babysit a 10-year-old for a few hours while she prepares for college exams. The kid, Grace (Maya Misaljevic), is stubborn at first, but warms up to Tom over some video games and pizza. The night takes a turn, however, when Grace’s home is invaded by masked hooligans who have a connection to a greater, supernatural purpose.
Roberts’ performance is good, but I didn’t like how director Daniel Turres molded the character of Tom O’Bannon. Taking inspiration from Sam Raimi, Turres (along with screenwriter James Roberts) wants to make O’Bannon into an unlikely hero ala Evil Dead’s plucky Ash Williams. However, the audience believes Tom could be someone’s hero already. He’s tough, bad ass, and loyal. O’Bannon doesn’t have much of an arc that brings him out as an underdog.
Like the faulty character development, good attributes are always paired with poor directorial decisions. Take the practical effects, for instance. They’re satisfying in all their bubbly, goopy glory, but they’re applied to actors who are too over-the top to an obnoxious degree. Jesse Buck plays a flunky who’s only “bit” is screaming and mugging. A little of that goes a long way, and it’s a bummer that Buck’s schtick is a running gag.
Other much funnier jokes are driven into the ground with lame repetition (such as an extended cameo from Twisted Sister’s Dee Snider as the voice of a hungry skull who constantly reminds people to feed him), the actors are committed to the film’s action but the fights are overly choreographed, and the story itself has interesting ideas that are hampered by tired horror tropes that are missing much needed irony.
Here For Blood is an overproduced disappointment that is always stepping on its own toes.
For more information on the festival, visit the official Toronto After Dark website.
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