BLOOD QUANTUM (2019)
Canadian zombie flick presents a novel twist on the popular sub-genre. It opens with a starkly effective scene of a fisherman’s gutted catch coming back to life and escalates from there. An outbreak of some kind has the dead returning to life and eating the living, while also infecting those they bite. It is, however, not affecting the Mi’gmaq people of the Red Crow reservation and now they must fight to survive against the growing horde from across the river. There is another conflict though…Red Crow Sheriff Taylor (Michael Greyeyes), wants to help survivors from outside the reservation, who obviously present a danger, while others feel they should fend for themselves. Now the tribespeople are split as the dead close in.
Film is written and very well directed by Indigenous Canadian filmmaker Jeff Barnaby. On a zombie film level, it has fast moving zombies, some fantastic and very abundant gore and some very impactful attack sequences, despite being part of an overpopulated sub-genre. What makes this stand-out, is the sometimes-powerful commentary on the treatment of indigenous peoples and on the state of their own communities on the reservations. The metaphor of a people being overrun, and their land taken by outsiders is certainly not lost here. The conflict between those wanting to abandon the outside world and those like Taylor who want to remain compassionate is very compelling. It’s a strong statement on human compassion, when those who have been treated terribly by others, in the face of crisis, risk and sometimes lose their own lives to help those who have never been kind to them. It gives an already solid and inventive zombie film a very effective emotional undercurrent. Add to that a strong cast of characters with indigenous actors playing indigenous peoples and you have one of the more unique and effective tellings of a very familiar story in quite a while. This is a very good example of how the horror genre can be used to portray important themes and messages while still being entertaining. Check it out on Shudder!