By Michelle Halloween
Nowadays, it’s a little hard to find a zombie flick that can offer a unique, cringe scare factor. Sure, a few fun ones have popped up since The Walking Dead phenomenon took hold of the cinematic universe, but that alone has made the zombie repetitive and predictable. Thankfully, Shudder’s original movie BLOOD QUANTUM delivers an eye-catching, unique story on the undead subculture.
Writer and director Jeff Barnaby offers viewers a message within this tale that is centered around the Mi’gMaq tribe of the Red Crow Reservation. We have wounded and sickened our lands, our home as a whole. Those who have caused the most harm (in this story, it is the white man) will be sickened, killed, and turned to food for the planet, out of revenge. The message hits hard and it is especially relevant considering the current state of the world. In fact, the film begins with an edited, yet unsettling Ancient Settler Proverb:
"Take heed to thyself, that thou make no treaty with the inhabitants of the land whither thou goest lest it be cause of ruin among you. Break down their altars, smash their sacred stones, and burn down their groves…when they whore themselves to their demons and sacrifice to them, you will eat their sacrifices. And when you choose some of their daughters for your sons, they will lead your sons to do the same.”
BLOOD QUANTUM is centered around Traylor, the lone Sheriff on the Red Crow Reservation, played by Michael Greyeyes. Already strained on resources, Traylor finds himself pulled in many different directions at the beginning of what was supposed to be just another day. His two sons Joseph (Forrest Goodluck) and Lysol (Kiowa Gordon) have been picked up and arrested on separate charges. His ex, Joss (Elle-Máijá), is nagging him to help get Joseph released. Lysol is the regular troublemaker who seems to have been written off as such. While dealing with his boy’s angst, he gets word that his father called and sounded scared. Traylor’s father makes a shocking discovery with the fish he pulled from the river that morning. Not to mention calls from all over the reservation are coming in about the townies falling ill.
It’s worth noting that “blood quantum” is a term used to define ancestral bloodlines. The term is extremely prevalent in the film for the Mi’gMaq tribe members are not affected when bitten or scratched once the undead begin their feeding frenzy. Their immunity gives them the advantage for what comes, after the rest of humanity seems to literally eat itself.
Viewers will be abruptly taken from the first day and night the zombie plague begins to six months later, where we are introduced to a new society. Run by Traylor’s commanding and organized presence, everyone whom he is close with has a role. Even Lysol, through his boredom and rebellious nature, causes more tension between Joseph and Traylor. Joseph’s focus turns from impressing his brother to solely keeping his pregnant, white girlfriend safe. The immune seem to be surviving comfortably enough, until it comes time to decide who to allow into the post-apocalyptic township. Things get ugly when Joseph’s girlfriend convinces Traylor to allow entrance to a grieving father and his companion. Just because the Mi’gMaq are immune, doesn’t mean they can’t be eaten.
Ultimately, Lysol’s unchecked rage and anger lead to calamity. Illicit drug and alcohol-induced behaviors fatally disrupt what seemed like a peaceful time for the inhabitants of the camp. That, combined with the recent admission of infected townies, and all hell breaks loose.
There is no lack of blood, guts, and gore in BLOOD QUANTUM. Some of the creative kills are worthy to be inducted into the “Zombie Kill Hall of Fame”. If there is such a thing. Nothing was held back, so if you’re squeamish, you should watch anyways. Horror cinephiles have needed some good zombie elimination fun.
Literally a gut-wrenching movie, BLOOD QUANTUM offers a nice balance of drama and horror. Zombie fans and even “bored-with-zombie-movie-fans,” will be delighted and disturbed with this gem. While you’ll enjoy the gory effects, you’ll be captivated by the strong performances for they command attention and respect. Your heart will likely bleed for the film doesn’t go easy on any character. BLOOD QUANTUM is a highly enjoyable film. If you are easily offended and don’t care for zombie flicks, you should still give it a watch.