IR Film Review: BLOOD QUANTUM [Shudder]

The aspect of the zombie movie has made its way throughout cinema history but in order for them truly to work they need to have a connection to the place that they are speaking of. “28 Days Later” used London to specific effect in its play. “The Walking Dead” goes more for sociology in its body count but the aspect of power becomes more of the trait it is known for. With Jeff Barnaby’s film “Blood Quantum”, the approach is based in the aspect of the land and its people. “Blood Quantum”, according to the production book, is the aspect of being able to gauge genetic heredity in the native population to determine rights within the reservation setting according to exterior government. In other words, it is a reflection of control, both financial and political. This is used as the basis within the story to create both the genre and the practical structure of how the zombie wave affect the people and their defense of it.

The first quarter of the story begins 3 years prior when fish and animals begin coming back to life after being killed or reaching their end which is an apt metaphor at times for the destruction of modern life. Initially what can be perceived as perhaps a spiritual mythology instead reflects in very real and basic terms. If you are fully blood, you have the chance to be immune. Anything below 50 percent is in peril. The movie doesn’t play too much on these facts but yet their prevalence keys subtly and strongly throughout the movie. The land is separated from the outsiders by a bridge which at times can grind its attackers to a pulp. The community will always help but understands the structure that needs to be maintained. Like films “I Am Legend”, “War Of The Worlds”, “Waterworld” or even “Zombieland”, the question become inside the society what begins to happen when it eats it from the inside and what survives.

In this apocalyptic situation, it offers questions. And in the current COVID-19 basis, it forces everyone to reexamine society, what it means, what family is and what it could be and sometimes isn’t . For some it is very straight forward. For others, it is a path to ruin. The story that plays very clear is the father of two sons tries not to pass on what he considers his sins to his sons who seem to be on a path of ruin. One is a hothead but has the dexterity to be something more but his rage blinds him. The other is the more sensitive and has the ability to be more yet acts reckless because he is emulating his brother. His truth s brought into focus by a responsibility that is his to take. That forms the basis of his redemption. That s not to say that the story being told is devoid or in any way lacking in its horror roots.

Taking out the zombies, and others to that point, is done with malice and in your face. One bigger dude uses a chainsaw as his weapon of choice. But it is Grandpa,, who will protect his own land at all costs, that becomes he samurai of the piece. It is him we see in the beginning living a quiet life that is thrown into ruin. He is a fisherman before fate brings him onto the battlefield. It is a mythology like others but the samurai motif is clear. While folklore and archetypes can play in the point including the aspect of betrayal, the final shot speaks to the reality of what life is. The film has many specific meanings hidden within its structure but the texture of where they lead rings true.

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By Tim Wassberg

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