Blood Quantum — the new zombie apocalypse film by First Nation Writer, Director, Film Editor, and Composer — Jeff Barnaby, best known for his debut feature film — Rhymes for Young Ghouls, was 10-years in the making. However, it is a timely portrayal of a deadly disease, xenophobia, survival, and creating ones new normal — post epidemic. It was surreal to watch during a pandemic.
Zombies–An intelligent distraction to real pandemic despondency
The Blood Quantum zombie film is an excellent distraction to enjoy as the cities of the world begin to slowly re-open after the very real COVID-19 pandemic.
In the film, the dead are coming back to life because there is a zombie plague, and only a group of Indigenous inhabitants — the Mi’gmaq people on the Reserve of Red Crow in Listuguj, Quebec, are immune.
The writer’s intention for Blood Quantum the movie
“I wanted the themes in Blood Quantum to be a bare-knuckled look into the frustrations of racism …. To exist is to hold a line. That has a romantic, noble savage shine to it …. But the truth is, you’re not holding that line so much as that line is holding you, and you get held there until you hate the world for treating you … differently or hate yourself for being different.
“I’ve based my entire life around the truth that art can transcend hate and alter perceptions; I know this for fact because art has done this for me more than once.”— Director — Jeff Barnaby
If you know North American history, you’ll understand why the Indigenous people in the film, on the Reserve of Red Crow, are divided over offering aid and shelter, once again.
The concepts, political undertones, the struggle to create a multicultural, post-apocalypse community, as well as pre and post-colonial dilemmas abound. Blood Quantum, the movie, uses all the familiar zombie flick tropes, yet it offers more than an escape from reality. It brings the “woke” viewer along for a head nodding in agreement, ride. Yet, for those who are not so well versed in the struggles of Indigenous people around the world, it will make you think. Perhaps it will also cause you to have some uncomfortable conversations about race, class, and post-colonial fears and injustice.
Shaping a multicultural, post-apocalypse community in cinema
“With less than 5,000 speakers, my language is disappearing, as what’s left of the Mi’gMaq nation assimilates into the new world. The ideas behind Blood Quantum are more than just plot points to a horror film. The Mi’gMaq are in extinction protocol.”— Director — Jeff Barnaby
An artful demonstration of colonialism’s impact
Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) on every continent are demanding social justice and inclusion. And Blood Quantum is a small reveal of what could happen if the people of the world do not figure out how to coexist in harmony.
Jeff Barnaby was born on a Mi’gmaq reserve in Listuguj, Quebec. His filmmaking paints a stark and scathing portrait of post-colonial Indigenous life and settler culture.
The grand pursuit of equality in a zombie flick
“I know that there will be loss and tragedy in the grand pursuit of equality …. the survival of being Mi’gMaq, of being Navajo, Nava’Maq, is synonymous with cultural synergy. ” Jeff continued.
“I don’t know what I’ll lose in this pursuit of the idea of harmony, but I know wanting to take the journey makes holding onto my humanity, understanding forgiveness, and grief, and love and hate, and never slipping into despair, mandatory.”— Director — Jeff Barnaby
This movie will not wrap things up for you in a neat little package. Just like North American history, Blood Quantum’s ending is messy, unclear, and filled with anxiety about the future of humankind.
Blood Quantum true to the zombie genre
Blood Quantum is true to the genre of zombie film making. It is also rich in Indigenous culture.
The characters are complex. The cinematography is artful. And the parallels between the zombie plague and life after the COVID-19 pandemic are subtle yet coincidentally striking.
You will take an emotional ride from hands over face gore, to heart-wrenching character dynamics, and a few laughs.