In This New Campy Horror Film, Queer and Trans Friends Fight Off Literal Brain Worms

Yeah. I think we may have used After Effects to make the eyes glow or something, but all the slime and that stuff is real and everything.

Among your many accomplishments, how did you get into the effects side of filmmaking, with all the gore and the splatter?

I was really lucky, actually, to work with an artist called Adele Shearwin. She did Talk to Me and all these massive projects. I guess she liked my scripts and liked working with me, so I was really lucky to have her on board. But yeah, at this level you can only really have mainly practical effects. I don’t have the budget for complex visual effects. Also, aesthetically, in terms of making throwbacks to schlocky films, the practical aesthetic is something I definitely wanted from the get-go.

A lot of independently-made horror these days is more sober in tone. Often, it registers more as drama with horror elements. I’m not necessarily disparaging that; I like many of those films. But is that something you’re interested in exploring, or do you love this gory, practical effects, nodding-to-B-movies space?

I would definitely explore it in the future, but I don’t know. At the moment, I’m interested in exploring different subgenres, but still keeping that campy aesthetic with grounded elements. For T Blockers, I really wanted it to just be more of a coming-of-age hangout film that then takes a turn into the horror genre with the chasers and the men getting parasites. Rather than just a straight-up horror film or a straight-up comedy film, it’s a hangout trans friendship film, and then I throw in elements of horror.

It’s a winning formula for me! I wanted to ask again about the worms, but this time in a more figurative sense. The phrase “brain worms” is in the lexicon these days, and for good reason. Many people I once knew have fallen prey to various kinds of paranoid, regressive, and conspiratorial thinking. One of the things I appreciate about T Blockers is that people who let the worms take root often have some kind of precipitating incident that makes them vulnerable to it, like Adam getting rejected. How deliberate of a choice was that?

I think it’s really deliberate. I didn’t want to set out and be like, “Oh, all the men are worms and parasites and stuff like that,” because that’s just not true. Life is a lot more nuanced than good and bad. Which is why I didn’t want Adam, even though he was a chaser, to be outright evil from the beginning. And even with the “good guy,” so to speak, his friends develop into parasitic worms. I wanted to capture the rot and how easy you can go from just being a regular guy to the alt-right.

Looking toward the future, what’s your dream feature? Someone drops a bag of money on your doorstep tomorrow. What do you make?

I’d honestly make things that are similar to what I’m making at the moment. I’d just do it at a larger scale with more money, more time, and put that money on the screen.

This conversation has been edited and condensed for clarity.

T Blockers is available on VOD and in select theaters on March 5.

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