T-Blockers review: body horror and the trans experience

With delicious body horror, vibrant colour aesthetics, and layers-upon-layers of metatext, T-Blockers achieves something amazing with its tiny budget.

T-Blockers, a 2023 film by young transgender filmmaker Alice Maio Mackay, has just been released on VOD and DVD in Australia – and if you want to keep your finger on the pulse of new Aussie screen talent, you ought to watch it.

Made when she was just 17, T-Blockers is actually Mackay’s third feature – a follow up to her previous films So Vam and Bad Girl Boogey (both also horrors). Watching her films made me realise just what you can do with a limited budget, a vision, and oodles of rage at being an oppressed member of society.

Layers of ooze

T-Blockers, like most of Mackay’s films, was shot with a predominantly queer, non-binary and trans cast and crew, with an estimated budget of $10,000. The title refers to a method of hormone therapy for trans women, testosterone blockers, which suppresses androgens like testosterone to assist in feminising the body. For trans women, these drugs are a vital part of their healthcare, and being denied access to it could spell disaster.

Titling a horror film about a group of queer friends who go transphobe-hunting ‘T-Blockers‘ doesn’t just refer to that life-saving medicine: it could mean a lot of things … TERF-Blockers, Trash-Blockers … or maybe it refers to the parasite-infested meatheads as Truth-Blockers.

Our protagonist Sophie (Lauren Last), a trans filmmaker not dissimilar to Mackay, experiences painful headaches that warn her of nearby foes – the cis-het men radicalised by transphobia and possessed, literally, by parasitic worms that turn them into cannibal zombies.

They are all being transformed against their will by the spread of misinformation, a clever twist on a classic TERF argument that trans people are just following a ‘trend’ and being transitioned against their will. It’s a fun, fresh, and oh-so-smart choice that adds to the film’s many surprises.

Read interview: Satranic Panic director Alice Maio Mackay

Putting her filmmaking dreams aside for a moment, Sophie assembles a crew of her friends to fight back against this quickly-spreading parasite uprising. This is the point where you can strap in for a skull-crushing, goo-oozing good time, with plenty of laugh-out-loud moments, and a killer soundtrack to boot.

Direct to video

Throughout the film, there are multiple fourth-wall breaks and meta-text moments which I just love; the most predominant being the appearance of Australian drag queen Etcetera Etcetera as a Rocky Horror-meets-Elvira narrator, oozing charm in black and white as she channels 1960s TV horror anthology hosts.

Her presence usually book-ends a film-within-the-film moment, where the protagonists Sophie and Spencer (Lewi Dawson) realise their real-life body horror situation reflects a film they saw. Mackay constructs this secondary film as an even-lower budget shlock fest, an amateur backyard film that serves as a portent of things to come in the real world.

Sophie (Lauren Last) smiles. Image: Umbrella Entertainment.

There’s a scene in the first act of the film where Sophie and Spencer are watching the other film on a projector in the bedroom, which made for an eery memetic experience when I realised I was watching T-Blockers on my projector in my bedroom. Unintentional meta!

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All of these moments sit within a film that is also crossing back and forth between the character’s actual reality, and the fictional screen-worlds of budding screenwriter Sophie. It’s impressively done and has such a consistent tone and style that you may find yourself being shocked every time you remember that the filmmaker was 17.

Speaking of style, a standout choice is how the aesthetic of Sophie’s bedroom constantly dazzles the viewer with bright, trans-flag colour grading, that signals her space as one of safety, and freedom of expression. It makes for an effective juxtaposition with the real world, which, when cut to, appears dull and flat, lit only by streetlights.

On the streets of Adelaide, where young Mackay hails from, Sophie is threatened by chasers (i.e. people who only want to hook up with her because they have a trans fetish), transphobes, and parasite-infested cishets who constantly want to fight. Only in her room, and at the local queer bar, can she truly feel safe.

The world of T-Blockers world isn’t really our world, though – for example, there are harsh, draconian laws in place that threaten trans people’s existence, a plague is turning people into unthinking extremists, and, well … wait a minute. Mackay may be onto something here.

The film isn’t perfect, and it’s often noticeable when artistic corners have been cut due to budget and skills restraints, but for a seventeen year old filmmaker it’s a true phenomenon. Add T-Blockers to your watchlist now, and keep an eye on Alice Maio Mackay.

T-Blockers is rated MA15+, and it’s out now on VOD and DVD.


3.5 out of 5 stars


Etcetera Etcera, Lauren Last, Lewi Dawson, Toshiro Glenn


Alice Maio-Mackay

Format: Movie

Country: Australia

Release: 20 March 2024

Silvi Vann-Wall is a journalist, podcaster, and filmmaker. They joined ScreenHub as Film Content Lead in 2022. Twitter: @SilviReports