Blood Quantum (2019)
April 28, 2020 6:54 PM - Subscribe

The dead are coming back to life outside the isolated Mi'gMaq reserve of Red Crow, except for its Indigenous inhabitants who are strangely immune to the zombie plague.

"I'm indigenizing zombies": behind gory First Nation horror Blood Quantum. Writer-director Jeff Barnaby talks about his bold and brutal new thriller and why he shouldn’t have to speak for Native cinema as a whole [theguardian]

Indigenous Canadian Zombie Movie Bites Into Colonialism. “Blood Quantum” struggles to reconcile the shlockiness of its making with the sensitivity of its design. But when it works it works, and Barnaby punctuates the film with moments of grotesquely resonant power that would be impossible to create in any other context. [indiewire]

Despite its flaws, it’s a promising film with some great ideas—and that alone should satisfy Shudder subscribers. [rogerebert]


Streaming on google play.
posted by porpoise (13 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I saw this a couple of months ago and thought it was the best (non-comedy) zombie film I'd seen since "28 days later".
posted by rmd1023 at 7:06 PM on April 28, 2020 [1 favorite]

It's also now streaming on Shudder, which has a free 7-day trial. Great excuse to use that this week.
posted by mediareport at 8:11 PM on April 28, 2020 [2 favorites]

That it was a First Nations produced, it feels like a small window into how First Nations perceive their community - and those around them - and it's varied members honestly, good and bad. Authenticity through lived experiences.

Loved the setting/ premise, and the consequences/ circumstances that fall out from those.

The opening credits had me worried, but the cinematography is solid. Liked the lighting and colour tones; sets and scenes look "real"-real instead of movie-real.

Some bold experiments that worked out, too, so give them that.

Starts slower, but a very nice intro to the community and a great reveal of the start of a zombie plague. It's not totally vanilla and has its own quirks which adds verisimilitude (a real zombie plague isn't going to be exactly what's shown in media.

The effects are good. Some scenes better than others. Very creative mental-horror type creepiness on top of the gore.

Appreciate the writing and the plausibility/ realism. On the face of it, a community I'd be proud to be part of- and in compliance with- in a zombie apoc of these specifications.

The writing has a solid foundation and amazing "what ifs" that they got to explore.

Not a comedy, but found several different ways to inject a bunch of levity. Disagree with critic criticism of the acting; on par or better than the majority of indy films.

Very strong zombie flick, deserves wide distribution. I have no regrets buying the HD version through google play (unless someone can tell me how google screws these types of content producers?).

If you liked Tarantino's "From Dusk Till Dawn," you have no excuse not to love this (even more than FDTD) unless you only liked the last third of FDTD, but if you liked "Reservoir Dogs" you have no excuse not to like the ending (no, there's no direct plot relevance).
posted by porpoise at 9:22 PM on April 28, 2020 [2 favorites]

The description reminds me of Cherie Dimaline’s novel The Marrow Thieves, where Indigenous people around the world are the only ones who are able to dream (and thus stay mentally healthy). You can guess how quickly that puts them in jeopardy, and that book, too, is really all about colonization, of course.

It’s movies like this that make me wish I weren’t such a scaredy cat. So much smart contemporary horror explores themes that really interest me—race, gender—but the older I get the less able I am to watch a horror movie. I still haven’t been able to get up the courage to see Get Out, or Us, both of which I think I’d (theoretically) like a lot.

I’d also really like to see this. So for those of you who have seen Blood Quantum, how scary is it? Say, compared to Train to Busan, a zombie movie I saw somewhat reluctantly but ended up really liking? That is about as scary as I can handle.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 7:28 PM on April 29, 2020 [1 favorite]

There's definitely gore, but I feel like it tries to stay away from jump scares and goes more for the psychological "this situation suuucks."
posted by porpoise at 8:13 PM on April 29, 2020 [1 favorite]

Thanks porpoise! That actually gives me a good idea of whether I could handle it. It might be ok for me; gore is gross but doesn’t get to me as much as jump scares do.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 8:17 PM on April 29, 2020

Yeah. It's been a few months since I saw "Blood Quantum" but I just saw "Train to Busan", and I'd say Busan was scarier and much gorier.
posted by rmd1023 at 6:06 AM on April 30, 2020 [1 favorite]

(I think a lot of that may come down to differences in fx budget)
posted by rmd1023 at 6:12 AM on April 30, 2020

I thought it was fairly gory, but leavened with some humour to make it not so horrific.

Enjoyed this a great deal, though I think the opening scene with the fish coming back to life might have been the bit I liked most.
posted by lesbiassparrow at 11:33 PM on April 30, 2020 [2 favorites]

Yeah, that opening fish scene was creepy and great. I liked the disorienting opening credits, too; those two things raised my hopes, which didn't quite get matched by the film, which began to look like a pretty ordinary low-budget zombie film (especially after the unfortunate time-jump, which I felt hurt the arc of the movie considerably). The Native elements were among the best parts of the film but I wanted more of them and less of the "evil brother is evil" stuff.

The movie first started to lose me after the nurse let the young woman into the compound without checking her for bites. They just had this whole intense scene where the survivors were shown to be ruthless about killing the soon-to-be-zombified, and then she just takes the woman's word for it about being bitten? That's a total Dumb Zombie Movie move, and it was disappointing to see early on. And Lysol's comment at the end - "You don't think she was let in by accident, do you?" made no sense. It was just the nurse in the room, a genuinely sympathetic, if not heroic, character.

Overall, as a zombie fan I enjoyed it - the mood is great, especially early on, and most of the undead scenes are intense without being stupid - but as it ended I found myself wishing it had more depth.
posted by mediareport at 4:19 AM on May 1, 2020 [3 favorites]

I took that comment differently, as a fatalistic comment about how that is how things work for first nations: the colonizer will devour you no matter what. He ended up getting killed by a white person, which is not unlike what happens to many indigenous people up here.

I am going to look on APTN to see if they have some more reviews or discussions around this. I felt like ther was an awful lot I was missing.

But the not checking thing was a bit of a glaring issue. And I wish they had more time with the back stories to fill out some of the characters.
posted by lesbiassparrow at 8:48 AM on May 1, 2020 [3 favorites]

But, at the same time it isn't fatalistic in that way people like to figure the future of first nations.

I really want to see what the filmmaker does next.
posted by lesbiassparrow at 8:50 AM on May 1, 2020

Way late to this movie, but I saved it for watching as part of my annual October horror marathon. I agree with lesbiassparrow's take on Lysol's comment. He's saying that whether the Mi'gMaq admit it or not the white folks are going to consume them, even if they (colonizers) are conscious of it. Scorpions are going to sting frogs and colonizers are gonna colonize.

I liked the movie a lot, but it also left me wishing it was longer so they could have explored the underlying themes a little more. At 98 minutes they feel a little scattershot. Lysol is compelling character in that his concerns and stance (as above) are legitimate and true to history. This is even recognized by heroic characters like Joss (the nurse). While we never get to know if Lysol was right about whether white people are inherently colonizers his self destruction and toxicity towards his own community. He is the festering wound of colonial systems (residential schools, pulled from his community into a white foster system, mistreated by a justice system that arguably has no place on Mi'gMaq land, etc) that lashes out and damages from within. In some ways he is a zombie himself, only he was bitten by the foster system and infected that way.

Anyways. This was a breezy 98 minutes. Easily could have made slapped another 30 onto it and I would have happily kept going. Great splatterpunk horror and it's just a bonus that it actually has some thematic meat to it.

Lastly, Elle-Máijá Tailfeathers (Joss) was involved with (directed, wrote) a movie that came out last year called The Body Remembers When the World Broke Open. It is not a genre film, but may be of interest to anyone looking for more indigenous film.
posted by forbiddencabinet at 1:01 PM on October 5, 2020 [1 favorite]

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