Year:  2023

Director:  Alice Maio Mackay

Rated:  MA

Release:  20 March 2024

Distributor: Umbrella

Running time: 74 minutes

Worth: $15.00
FilmInk rates movies out of $20 — the score indicates the amount we believe a ticket to the movie to be worth

Lauren Last, Lewi Dawson, Etcetera Etcetera, Stanley Browning, Chris Asimos

… a gloriously over the top splatterpunk movie that wears its heart on its sleeve when it really matters.

Australian filmmaker Alice Maio Mackay hasn’t even hit her twenties and she already has a compendium of short and feature length movies attached to her name, with her debut So Vam currently streaming on Shudder. T-Blockers is her third feature, with two more in the chamber for this year, and like those that came before it, it’s rough, ready, violent, and unapologetically trans.

Sophie (Lauren Last), with her friend Spencer (Lewi Dawson), is hoping to be the next big thing in film directing, but is stumbling when it comes to ideas and funding. However, at least she’s lucky in love, eh? Actually, no. On her first date with the almost too perfect Adam (Stanley Browning), she quickly drops him to the kerb when it becomes clear that her being trans is a kinky fetish for him. A ‘tranny chaser’ as Sophie laments later.

Unfortunately for our troubled filmmaker, this won’t be the last time she sees Adam, as he and many other cis-men fall victim to a goopy parasite that turns them into raging, violent beasts. Good thing then that Sophie has a psychic link to those infected, making it easy(ish) for her and her ragtag bunch of vigilantes to take them down. You know, it’s a tale as old as time.

Maio Mackay will be the first to tell you that T-Blockers runs on the fumes of a low budget, but her passion for this film and cinema itself is clearly unabated. Although set in the modern day, Sophie’s adventure is a dayglo nightmare from the ‘80s that reminds you of the likes of Douglas Cheek’s C.H.U.D. with the colour pallet of Romero’s Creepshow. Those who prefer a bit more William Castle in their films will get a kick out of Drag Race alumni Etcetera Etcetera popping up as a b-movie host who is equal parts Dragula and the Amazing Criswell.

At the heart of this film, much like Gretchen Felker-Martin’s Manhunt or Alison Rumfitt’s Tell Me I’m Worthless, amidst all the blood and violence is Maio Mackey’s portrait of the trans experience as it stands today. In a third act panic, Sophie ponders whether the parasites can ever be defeated. When you get rid of one, more just seem to come out of the literal woodwork. Yes, it can be argued that it’s not the most subtle of allegories. However, we live in an age where the rights of trans people are being discussed, largely without their inclusion, and you’re considered a ‘groomer’ if you don’t think that’s okay. T-Blockers seems to say that the time for nuance has gone. There is a very real danger out there that can’t be stopped by a hockey stick. And we’re not talking about the film festival director Zen (Chris Asimos) hoping that Sophie will work for exposure.

For all of its visceral thrill, if we’re to be honest, T-Blockers feels like it could be just a little longer in order to let its world breathe. Conclusions and realisations seem to be made without the audience being aware, and a subplot involving a ‘90s zombie movie that gives our heroes clues to their fate is underbaked. Minor quibbles, but they do let the air out of the tyres a bit.

All in all though, T-Blockers is a gloriously over the top splatterpunk movie that wears its heart on its sleeve when it really matters. Get this in your eyeballs immediately.