I wasn’t sure what to expect with this film. I love folklore, but admittedly know little about Filipino tales. Even less concerning their unique martial arts fighting styles.
So when I sat down to view this film, I was pleasantly surprised to be transported to a whole new world. Well, more like a parallel one that could very well exist today. A plane of ongoing battle, with two opposing sides struggling for dominance and survival. The Aswang and their hybrids on one side, pure humans on another.
But, what exactly is an ‘Aswang’? I needed to learn that first. Upon further research, I found out that it is an umbrella term for a shapeshifting creature. The night-dwelling Aswang can have vampiric or cannibalistic qualities, and even engage in witchcraft. Its favored prey are pregnant women and children, explaining the Aswang in Blood Hunters fixation on the latter.
In the movie, a government agency wished to bring dead people back to life using the blood of the Monster Queen, Maya. However, all of these blood transfusions were not a match. In the effort to do good for humanity, hybrids were created that brought turmoil and sadness to the land. Seeking to enhance their numbers, these ‘lab experiments’ built an army and decided to terrorize the local communities.
But…what would happen if a hybrid decided to fight for the same cause as the humans? What if, the Aswang blood was needed for human survival, but their species was not? What conflicts would arise then?
Blood Hunters: Rise of the Hybrids answers all of these questions while raising a few more along the way.
In a story rich with lore, we are introduced to Gabriella. After indiscriminate attacks against surrounding villages, Gabriella’s family is killed in a skirmish. Seeking revenge, she sets out after the Aswang warlord Naga. While confronting the creature, she is knocked unconscious and saved by lovebirds who are later revealed to be part of The Slayers faction. The Slayers are a group of warriors specialized in the art of killing Aswang.
In their encampment surrounded by woods, Gabriella meets Bolo – the human hybrid.
The two initially butt heads before joining forces to bring down Naga, Gundra, their Queen, and the entire Aswang compound.
Blood Hunters puts emphasis on the nature of the hybrid, and the humanity they are sorely lacking. Their physical features are distorted, and their ability to “blend in” with the local population severely diminished as they grow closer and closer to the beast-like state.
There are no sparkly vampire sequences, no glamoured actors and actresses being devoured in optimal lighting. It’s brutal, and harsh. The realism displayed by the creatures feeding on human flesh made me feel uncomfortable while watching them on-screen.
Suddenly, I found myself feverently rooting for The Slayers to finish the Aswang once and for all.
But, one question lingered in my mind: if misused, couldn’t the wrong batch of state-sanctioned hybrids completely corrupt the world?
It is a question I would love to see answered in the exploration of this world in another film, or even a TV series!
DarkCoast will release Blood Hunters: Rise of the Hybrids on Amazon, Vimeo on Demand, FlixFling, Vudu, and FANDANGO starting March 17th, 2020.
Thank you to DarkCoast for the chance to see this film! It was truly something special! Want more Blood Hunters news? Check out my interview with Writer/Director/Star of the film Vincent Soberano here!
☆ In Asian Spaces