The dead are coming back to life outside the isolated Mi’gMaq reserve of Red Crow, except for its Indigenous inhabitants who are strangely immune to the zombie plague.
The zombie genre is one of the most popular mediums in the horror genre. It’s also, forgive the pun been done to death. Anytime someone can pull off a unique twist on the genre is always a welcome surprise. Blood Quantum directed by Jeff Barnaby asks the question, what if a zombie apocalypse happened and only one Native American tribe was immune to the virus? What horrors would they face?
The film begins on the first day of a zombie plague on the Mi’gmaq reservation in Quebec. We are introduced to our protagonists, Sheriff Traylor (Michael Grayeyes), his wife and son Joss and Joseph, (Elle-Maija Tailfeathers) (Forest Goodluck) and Joseph’s trouble-making half brother Alan (Kiowa Gordon). We spend a good time getting to know these characters and various others before the zombie’s attack. Time is spent developing the characters so we understand their lives within the tribe.
Sherif Traylor is a respected man but he is also flawed. There is a sense that he is struggling to be a good father to his son Joseph to make up for being an absent father to his son Alan. If you don’t care about your characters your movie isn’t going to get my attention and within 10 minutes I was invested in the lives of these characters.
Especially in a zombie film, this is a fundamental factor. The plague begins infecting residents in the nearby town and chaos ensues, our survivors join together and learn that whatever is causing this infection, members of the Mi’gmaq tribe are completely immune. If they are bitten by a zombie, it’s just a bite and they will not become zombies. This factor is what sets this apart from other recent zombie films. One group of people in all of the world are immune to the zombie virus. This reservation becomes home to the most important and powerful people in a world gone to hell.
The first act of the apocalypse is a fast-paced bloody action ride filled with lots of zombie killing and mass chaos. The second half of the film focuses on the survivors living in the new world in which only they are immune to the virus, and people from all over are seeking sanctuary on their land. From this, we get to perspectives on how the sanctuary should be run.
Sheriff Traylor is more than willing to extend a helping hand to the refugees seeking a safe place. His oldest son Alan, who has seen all the cruelty this world can offer represents the other side of the coin. He doesn’t want to take anyone in, to him they are a burden and liability and the irony isn’t lost on him that for the first time in history, his people are the ones with all the power and he’s not forgiving of the injustices wreaked against Native Americans.
This aspect is such a fascinating concept that I wish the film focused more on, its what makes it a unique zombie film. I wanted to see more of this world where Native Americans are now the most powerful and important people on the planet. The two perspectives from Sheriff Traylor and Alan are touched upon but I wanted it to go farther. I wanted to see more of what the rest of the world would look like? Are there more tribes out there that have the same immunity? It doesn’t ruin the film by any means but it would have been nice for this concept to be explored more.
Overall Blood Quantum is an effective and unique zombie film, that could have been better. It is well shot and directed and has good characters and great action, but as stated previously I wish it had done more with such a unique concept. It’s so refreshing to see a film with a majority of Native American actors, and I do hope more films like this are made in the future.