Movie Review: Blood Quantum (2019)

Written and directed by Jeff Barnaby, Blood Quantum is a 2019 zombie/horror movie. Residents of a Red Crow First Nations reserve in 1981 – Sheriff Traylor (Michael Greyeyes); his father, Gisigu (Stonehorse Lone Goeman); his ex-wife, Joss (Elle-Máijá Tailfeathers), a nurse; Traylor’s son, Joseph (Forrest Goodluck) and Joseph’s white half-brother, ‘Lysol’ (Kiowa Gordon); and many more – find themselves in the middle of a zombie outbreak, and soon discover the Natives are immune to the virus, even when bitten. Soon however, tensions flare when non-Natives seek shelter on the reserve.

+ of the main cast, Lysol (Gordon) and Traylor (Greyeyes) were the standouts, but Gisigu (Goeman) had a real presence to him, in a way only older actors can. It is a bit harder to rate the acting ability, here, as they were unknown to me, but I can say that none of them were offensively poor enough to drag down the movie
+ the story has a few interesting beats, but for the most part you won’t be surprised. The opening five minutes, and even up to the first big change around the half hour mark are the strongest moments, but it never outstays its welcome at a brisk 98 minute runtime
+ I love me some blood and gore, and this movie had that in spades (or should I say, chainsaws). It never felt hokey, except for one more comedic moment, but it certainly helped make the movie a bit more ‘dangerous’. Zombies, and their penchants for human guts, have been flanderized in modern times, so it’s a nice change of pace for them to be threats again
+ there are a handful of gorgeous and ominous animated dream/recap sequences interspersed through the movie, presumably as a metaphor for the retelling of the events of the film as verbal traditional stories

– despite the interesting parts alluded to, the movie never feels overly important. We are told there is drama on the reserve, but we don’t really see it, and the frantic action set pieces are the easy highlights
– the characters never feel like they are ‘one’, so to speak, with it all being more ‘this guy, and separately that girl’ rather than ‘the couple’. There is a relatively large cast on offer, but none stand out in any meaningful way

> if ‘Native Americans’ are people Native to American, and this is set in Canada, is the correct term ‘Native Canadians’? You’ll notice I’ve avoided having to make a judgment call through this whole review, at the risk of getting it wrong

Should you see this film: When the zombies were involved, I really enjoyed this. There’s buckets of blood and more sausage-guts than you could measure, but a few missed opportunities do drag this down from must see. While the first 30 minutes are its strongest, I can safely recommend this to any horror and zombie fan.

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