Blood Quantum (2019) reviews and overview

 

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Blood Quantum is a 2019 Canadian horror feature film about a zombie plague that devastates the world except for one Indigenous Native American community.

Written and directed by Jeff Barnaby (Rhymes for Young Ghouls), the Prospector Films production stars Michael Greyeyes, Elle-Máijá Tailfeathers, Forrest Goodluck, Kiowa Gordon, Olivia Scriven and Stonehorse Lone Goeman.

Plot:

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. Do they offer refuge to the denizens outside their reserve or not?

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Reviews [click links to read more]:

Blood Quantum is an important film, one that attempts to use horror to educate as well as entertain. It is a brutal take on an issue that is still raw for many people within this country, and while not everything in the film works, what does is enjoyable and engaging.” Backlot magazine

” …despite the heavy subject matter, Barnaby never hits you over the head with any particular message — he simply portrays the terror and claustrophobia of a community under attack, and lets his well-thought-out characters simply try to make their way through the morass intact, a proposition that grows increasingly less likely as the film progresses.” Bad Feeling magazine

“While the motivations for the chaos that tears down the new society are a little circumstantial and won’t work for everyone, Barnaby has an undeniable understanding of how to handle gore. Blood Quantum delights in messy violence, often timed with a comedic stinger to help the exploding heads and entrails go down easier.” Bloody Disgusting

“Like the slasher, the zombie siege film is by its nature formulaic, and lives or dies (or, uh, lives again) by whether the filmmakers have something to say. To this end, Blood Quantum succeeds with flying colors, presenting a cast of characters you’ve almost certainly never seen in a genre film before and and a range of social commentary that goes beyond the Romero playbook.” Boston Hassle

“Having something more in common with World War Z (the book, not the movie) rather than Zombieland, Blood Quantum gathers together a cast of characters which the audience will care about. The occasional cliché can be forgiven as they are staples of the genre, but Blood Quantum shows that with the right voices behind the camera, there may still be some weight left in a genre that many think may have run out of ideas.” BRWC

“This is a film that only Barnaby could have made, telling a story that is rooted not only in his Indigenous culture but also in his personal experiences. This film brings both nuances and grandeur to a subgenre that packed to the brim stories that play out like paint by numbers. While everyone faces it, death is cultural.” But Why Tho?

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“While Barnaby infuses obvious nods to George A. Romero and Quentin Tarantino throughout, he ensures that the film has his own unique stamp. Incorporating humour and animation into visually striking moments of horror, Blood Quantum is proof that the zombie genre still has plenty of unique stories to tell.” Cinema Axis

“When Blood Quantum sticks to what sets it apart from clichéd setups, namely its reservation setting and impressively gushing gore effects, it endures as something more substantial than routine zombie fiction. We’ve seen this basic premise countless times before, but we haven’t experienced it through the eyes of these particular people. That’s more than enough to make this journey worth taking.” Culture Crypt

Blood Quantum may have the biggest budget ever for an Indigenous-directed film made in North America (maybe even the world), but its overall plot feels quite generic for the genre; however, its incorporation of indigenous imagery and culture, and overall representation, makes this zombie horror feel like something special.” Daily Dead

“I wanted to like Blood Quantum a lot more for its unique setting and chance to use a familiar template to say something new. There’s some of that in there – and odds are good that a First Nations viewer will be able to extract a heck of a lot more than I could – but it’s too often just another flick following the same script as others with the undead, even if it does that pretty well.” eFilmCritic

“Barnaby’s pacing isn’t always as well-modulated as it is in the film’s first 20 or so minutes. When it gets frantic, he can’t quite muster up any genuine suspense and so relies instead on extreme gore. He does have an impressive knack for it, managing to construct a number of inventively nasty moments, but without much tension, the impact isn’t particularly long-lasting.” The Guardian

“My only real issue with this Canadian indigenous zombie thriller (gotta love that subgenre name) is the fact that it’s a bit too long. Or rather, the pace is simply slowed down too much during its runtime. This is unfortunate since the overall story is extremely engaging and the zombies work perfectly.” Heaven of Horror

Blood Quantum challenges its audience by forcing us to confront the historically problematic treatment of the Indigenous community in Canada. It’s a proud celebration of native culture — from the symbolic artwork to the soaring score — that builds a creatively unique addition to the zombie genre.” iHorror

” …kind of a mess, with structural leaps and sudden tonal changes that make it feel as though Barnaby is trying to paper over scenes that either didn’t work or were never shot in the first place. When it works, it really works… but it gets increasingly difficult to ignore the stuff that doesn’t.” Now Toronto

“The concept is astute and sharply executed. The cast is more than up to task of navigating the mood and tonal shifts of the picture, but the editing and screenplay […] struggle to reconcile a loving reverence for the sub-genre, and the very real political pain it is trying to exorcise.” Screen Anarchy

“The big zombie killin’ finale is gruesome and satisfying, but the emotional last act is what will stick with me for a long, long time. It’s unexpectedly heartbreaking and ends the story with a deafening silence and sadness. This isn’t your average horror film and is a must-see for those who enjoy a little brainy (pun intended) commentary with their apocalyptic movies.” Screen Zealots

“Performances are not always exceptional, and you would not call this a feminist effort, but the underlying wry, weary wit separates the film from anything else like it. There’s also an excellent use of resources – minimal sets maximized results: claustrophobia, tension, horror.” UK Film Review

“There’s little in the way of creepy atmospherics here, let alone major jolts, and the often violent action isn’t staged or edited for maximum impact. Strangely, this is one zombie movie that keeps you interested in things that are usually incidental — cultural differences, problematic relationships — yet falls down when it comes to the basic “Boo!” factor.” Variety

“It’s really cool to see this popular storytelling form of the zombie movie told from a different perspective – a very good indigenous director telling a story literally about his community and thematically about the history of colonialism. And if you don’t care about that you still win because it’s a fun, gory, well made horror movie.” Vern’s Reviews

“Barnaby knows that we are already overfamiliar with the tropes of the zombie movie and plays them out with a ruthless, gory economy – executed by rifle, axe, chainsaw and samurai sword – without getting bogged down in unnecessary, dull exposition. The film is far more interested in the politics of dispossession and discrimination…” VODzilla

Blood Quantum makes some obvious points about discrimination. And the image of a First Nations town once again facing genocide from white hands is obvious in its historical references […] But first and foremost Blood Quantum is a horror film. And it delivers on that level with a maximum of carnage.” Voices from the Balcony

“Maternal worries and external “invaders” provide just two of many side plottings at play, with a few such scripted additives falling flatter than intended. These are the climactic elements you’ve seen played out before, but once again, Jeff Barnaby brings an essential and forefronted marginalized touch to this reshuffled deck of zombie genre conflicts and resolutions.” We Got This Covered

Cast and characters:

  • Michael Greyeyes … Traylor
  • Elle-Máijá Tailfeathers … Joss
  • Forrest Goodluck … Joseph
  • Kiowa Gordon … Lysol
  • Olivia Scriven … Charlie
  • Stonehorse Lone Goeman … Gisigu
  • Brandon Oakes … Bumper
  • William Belleau … Shooker
  • Devery Jacobs … James
  • Gary Farmer … Moon
  • Felicia Shulman … Doris
  • Trevor Hayes … Man
  • Natalie Liconti … Lilith
  • Sylvano Harvey … Zombie
  • Sébastien Bolduc … Zombie

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