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  • Writer's pictureFred Guerin

Blood Quantum

Updated: May 31, 2020

I've never been much of a fan of zombie movies with the exception of George Romero's

iconic Night of the Living Dead and Dawn of the Dead--okay I also laughed out loud at the comedy horror Shaun of the Dead.In my view Romero exhausted the genre and almost every zombie film that followed was a pale and boring copy of the original.

The Canadian film discussed in the article below, 'Blood Quantum', was directed by Jeff Barnaby. It's about a zombie uprising on a First Nations reserve. The indigenous people on the reserve are immune to the plague because of their indigenous heritage, but they are forced to deal with a wave of white refugees who migrate to their reserve looking for shelter from the plague. At one level, it's an interesting and thought-provoking reversal--a kind of zombie allegory.

Indeed, Barnaby claims that the film is in fact a comment on colonialism. The title of the film comes from controversial US laws that supposedly determine the amount of indigenous blood a person has--the purpose being to limit citizenship within certain indigenous nations. Under the "Indian Act" Canada has its own racist-colonialist definitions of who is and who is not recognized as an "Indian,".

Perhaps that is why a part of me has some doubts about this film. It seems to be both trivializing and exploitive. That opinion is, of course, only a first impression which may well be revoked after seeing the film. But therein lies the problem!!

I don't really WANT to see this film and not because of the potentially interesting point it makes about colonialism. No, the fact is that chainsawing, cannibalistic, blood spurting, flesh decomposing zombie movies have become so predictable and formulaic that it is hard to sit still long enough to watch them. After viewing the trailer I could not help thinking this is one I may not be able to sit through.

My question then is why Jeff Barnaby did not just make a film about a viral plague, without the zombie component? All of the social commentary and critique could just as easily been made without the blood, gore and violence. Perhaps he thought the 'zombie element' would attract younger audiences--and perhaps he was right.

However, I would have preferred a film with a wider appeal that took the allegory to a more deeply thoughtful place.

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