Just before closing out their Halfway to Halloween month, Shudder proved to have one more trick up their sleeve when they dropped their newest original film by complete surprise.
Blood Quantum is far more than your typical zombie film. It has all the things we love about apocalyptic horror, but it also has something to say.
Town Already on the Edge
Set on a Mi’kmaq reservation in Canada, Blood Quantum opens on a town already rife with tension and animosity. The natives living on the reservation and the Caucasians living across the river in town don’t exactly get along, and tend to stay separate from one another.
The spark that then explodes this powder keg is a zombie outbreak, which the natives seem to be completely immune to. Even after the zombie apocalypse has been going for 6 months, the reservation is staying isolated, and being very cautious about who they let in.
So many zombie films feature the humans clashing with each other more than with the zombies, but here it feels natural. The entire first act is spent just setting this up. It works for the most part, although it does feel like it takes too long.
Especially since the 6 month jump in time occurs roughly halfway through movie. It almost feels like this should have happened earlier or later.
The 6 month later segment would have worked as either just the third act, or the majority of the movie. But given that it occurs halfway through, it really just throws off the pacing.
Style and Substance
However, what really sells this movie is its gritty and bloody zombie violence, on par with what horror fans would come to expect from low budget horror!
It also uses animated segments here and there to help convey ideas and moods. These animations are used sparingly, and are feature just enough that it feels like a cool stylistic choice that doesn’t take over.
Something to Say
Horror films have often used supernatural and terrifying elements to convey a social/political idea. It can be done very well (Get Out, Us) or very poorly (2019’s Black Christmas).
Blood Quantum is definitely the former, as it has very bold things to say, but does so in a subtle, nuanced manner. We see the tension between the characters, but the real point the film makes is using the zombies as a representation of colonization.
The Mi’kmaq natives are immune to the zombie virus, and must defend their reservation from Caucasians entering and bringing this disease with them.
We can ignore the fact that this echoes the swarm of Europeans who migrated to the Americas, many bringing diseases with them.
It’s an interesting dynamic that sheds a light on real life horror and tragedy that just gives this movie an extra layer of depth that sets it apart from other zombie films.
Blood Quantum is creative, gory, and just the right level of low budget gritty. It’s a great example of representation of Native Americans in cinema, and it’s a fascinating addition to the zombie subgenre!
Blood Quantum is streaming exclusively on Shudder