#NativeNerd: 'Blood Quantum' is the 'best zombie movie ever'
There is so much to tell about Jeff Barnaby’s “Blood Quantum.”
It has received one of my coveted 10 out of 10’s. (In fact, this would be the fourth I’ve given to a film on Rotten Tomatoes.) It really is that great. But though it has now just been released to online streaming services—garnering two top spots on Google Play and Apple TV already — we are not done here.
There’s a lot more to come and a lot more to celebrate, so let’s all do it together.
How to join the "Blood Quantum Watch Party"
Tuesday, May 5 at 9 pm EDT
- Sign up at www.shudder.com with promo code SHUTIN for a 30-day free trial.
- In the Shudder apps (Roku, AppleTV, Fire TV, Xbox, iOS, Android) or on Shudder.com, look for “Shudder TV” feed (specifically the “It Came From Shudder” channel for platforms with more than on.)
- Tune in to the "ShudderTV" live viewing of "Blood Quantum" at 9 pm ET on Tuesday night.
- Tweet with us using the hashtags #BQLive and #BloodQuantumMovie.
- If you subscribe to Shudder through a third-party like Prime Video or Apple TV Channels, you don’t have access to Shudder TV. Instead, you’ll need to search for “Blood Quantum” and press play at 9 pm ET Tuesday instead.
'Blood Quantum, The Aftershow' Livestream with Michael Greyeyes immediately after the #BQLive
Tuesday, May 5 at 10:40 pm EDT
Right after "Blood Quantum" ends on Shudder TV, join Michael Greyeyes and host of the the 'Blood Quantum, The Aftershow' Livestream, Vincent Schilling for an after-show party.
Here is the info:
Michael Greyeyes on Instagram.
You can join in on a live #BloodQuantumWatchParty this coming Tuesday at 9 p.m. eastern time with Michael and me. And yes, we have invited the other amazing cast members in this film, so you never know who might stop by. Considering this is Indian Country, it could possibly be everyone, you know how things can get.
During the film, Michael and I, as well as the great folks at Shudder TV, will be live-tweeting using the hashtags #BloodQuantumWatchParty and #BloodQuantumMovie. Make sure to watch along on Shudder TV, we are going to set up a live viewing that will start right at 9 p.m. EDT.
Tweet along with us, and we will all share in the great moments of the film as we all watch together!
#NativeNerd Blood Quantum movie review
Generally speaking, I like to include several movies in my weekly reviews, but in this case, I am giving “Blood Quantum” the Indigenous-themed zombie apocalypse thriller an article of its own.
In my #NativeNerd view, it is unequivocally well-deserved.
(See related article, which includes an interview with the film’s star Michael Greyeyes: In this zombie apocalypse ... Indigenous people are immune)
“Blood Quantum” stars Michael Greyeyes as the leader of sorts on the fictional Red Crow Rez, an arguable safe grounds sought by anyone not-yet-infected by zombies. The clincher of the films’ premise is that the local Native/First Nation’s population is immune to the zombie’s bite.
Sounds like a fantastic premise right? It is to me, but don’t get too excited. Being immune to a virus certainly doesn’t mean a potential victim is immune to being ripped to shreds by zombies that can sprint without exhaustion, and at the same time run about as fast as Billy Mills in his heyday.
In this case of an upsetting zombie apocalypse, I liken this status of being immune much like being awarded a golden-gilded dog turd.
Read my review below.
A note about my #NativeNerd scoring system
When reviewing movies, I employ the decimal system to a tenth of a point. So instead of 7 stars, I might give a 7.4 out of ten. Some movies aren’t an eight but deserve a little more than a seven.
So that’s that.
10 out of 10
My quick quote: “This gory flesh-ripping bloodfest is one of the best zombie apocalypse movies I have ever seen. In this case, “the gift” of Indigenous peoples’ immunity is about as valuable as a golden-gilded dog turd.”
Synopsis: (This extensive plot summary — written by the folks at the Toronto Independent Film Festival, was extracted from the “Blood Quantum” IMDb movie page.)
The term "blood quantum" refers to a colonial blood measurement system that is used to determine an individual's Indigenous status, and is criticized as a tool of control and erasure of Indigenous peoples. The words take on even more provocative implications as the title of Jeff Barnaby's sophomore feature, which grimly depicts an apocalyptic scenario wherein an isolated "Mi'gmaq" community discover they are the only humans immune to a zombie plague.
As the citizens of surrounding cities flee to the "Mi'gmaq" reserve in search of refuge from the outbreak, the community must reckon with whether to let the outsiders in - and thus risk not just the extinction of their tribe but of humanity, period. The severe and scathing portrait of post-colonial Indigenous life and culture that Barnaby previously captured in the acclaimed Rhymes for Young Ghouls here deftly collides with the iconography and violent hyperbole typical of the zombie genre.
The Undead are spectacularly and gruesomely dispatched via samurai swords, chainsaws, shotguns, and makeshift axes, while the living—a terrific ensemble cast led by Michael Greyeyes (Woman Walks Ahead and Fear the Walking Dead)—endure the paranoid pressures that such dire straits foment.
In this iteration, however, Barnaby takes full advantage of the canvas zombie films regularly afford for cultural critique, exploring racism, colonialism, and the very real threat of extinction that Indigenous communities have experienced for generations. Further accentuated by arresting animated chapter breaks that instill a cool comic-book aesthetic to its horrific proceedings, “Blood Quantum” is as powerful entry into the annals of zombie cinema as the devastating conclusion to George Romero's 1968 original “Night of the Living Dead,” and a meaningful demonstration of how marginalized voices—when given the opportunity—can resurrect a tired genre with incendiary new life.
Wow, Jeff Barnaby pulled out all of the stops in “Blood Quantum.” It’s been over a week since I first saw the press preview (sadly, I wasn’t able to attend the viewings in Toronto, Washington D.C., or other live showings) but when I finally did see it, my mouth dropped to the floor.
I expected a bit of “Yeah, go Native people!” feelings involved, but much like reality, it hit me that any kind of world’s end movie doesn’t always get riddled with happy moments.
Barnaby was simply masterful in his ability to showcase the reality that should be doled out without hesitation. Barnaby delivered.
Michael Greyeyes plays Traylor, a tribal police officer turned into a rez leader due to the chaos that shows itself, and his ability to showcase the relationships he holds with his troubled sons, Joseph played by Forrest Goodluck, Lysol, by Kiowa Gordon and his ex-wife Joss, played by Elle Majia Tailfeathers was a perfectly orchestrated portrayal of the complexities of strained Native life.
I can’t say enough great things about Goodluck, Gordon and Tailfeathers in this film. In fact, I can’t say enough good things about anyone.
Enter Traylor’s father Gisigu, played by Stonehorse Lone Goeman, a military veteran and Katana-wielding bad-ass who could easily stand toe-to-toe with Michonne of “The Walking Dead.”
The zombies were the most frightening zombies I have ever seen, considering they could run fast and tear you to shreds in seconds. It was truly haunting.
In the absolute best way.
The cast was excellent, as I tweeted, “Don’t get me started on the Native cast!” as everyone delivered, including Brandon Oakes, Kawennáhere Devery Jacobs, Gary Farmer and more.
See you at the #BloodQuantumWatchParty on Tuesday, May 5 at 9 p.m. eastern and 6 pacific.
#NativeNerd Vincent Schilling is the associate editor for Indian Country Today and a film industry certified movie reviewer.
Indian Country Today #NativeNerd Twitter @ICTNativeNerd