My rating: 6/10
Blood Quantum is a 2019 zombie apocalypse movie written and directed by Jeff Barnaby. Mind the VERY MINOR SPOILERS.
This is not a Hollywood blockbuster. It’s a low budget, First Nations indie flick. The culture is different, the method of storytelling is different, so I recommend, if you aren’t super familiar with Canadian or First Nations indie films, going into this movie and this review with an open mind.
It begins with a Mi’kmaw chief, just trying to get through the day. His sons are in jail, his ex-wife is nagging him, and his father has sent him an indirect, cryptic message. A jaded air colours everything Chief Traylor says and does. This guy’s miserable, he’s disappointed in his sons, he seems bordering on burnt out, and his relationships feel strained from the get-go.
That’s pretty much the case for the entire community, as we see throughout the movie. Sure, it’s a zombie movie, but they are so clearly symbolic, because this movie is about pain. The tragedy began for this cast of characters long before the salmon and the dogs first began waking up from the dead. This is a community that’s been plagued with depression and anger for a long time. It’s a grim, unflinching depiction of life and racial tensions between first nations and white people.
I enjoyed the symbolism of it. It evoked all kinds of emotions, not all good, but impactful. The acting was decent. If you’re unfamiliar with Canadian first nations productions, the mannerisms may differ from what you’re used to, but you’ll get accustomed to it quick.
The writing has some iffy, awful lines that made me cringe, but mostly, it’s well written. Reactions to the initial zombie bits were unexpected and realistic. The timing was good; the emotions were good. The family dynamics are so strained and high key confusing, but families are fucking complicated, and this movie does a good job illustrating that complicatedness and making it important to the plot without harping on it to death.
There is a 6 month time jump. I fucking hate time jumps. And there’s a few moments with AMAZING animation, and I loved the art style of these quick clips, but they interrupted the story. I think they could have served the movie better as an intro and/or outro, but damn, I’d put that fucking art on my wall if I could!
I’d definitely recommend this movie. Just probably not to racist peeps. It’s a solid indie zombie flick, regardless of culture, and doubles as a symbolic cultural statement. Oh, and the gore was well fucking done!
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Sam Clover is an author of M/M speculative fiction. Though she dabbles in a variety of genres, dark themes always find ways to permeate her work. She is a prairie girl from east of the Canadian Rockies, and a proud member of the LGBTQ+ community. Her debut book “Cold Snap” was released by Ninestar Press in December of 2020.