Blood Quantum (2019)

The term “blood quantum” has been a term used by the US Government for quite some time. It was adopted in 1705 by the Colony of Virginia as the “Indian Blood Law”. It was used by settlers to determine citizenship for those who had Native American blood. As with all people, Native Americans are a made up of the ancestry of their family tree. As time goes by, most of our family lines are distilled into percentages due to all of the humans moving around, committing violence, and colonizing. A person who had more than 50 percent Native American heritage would be denied civil rights. In 1924, the so-called Pocahantas Clause of the Racial Integrity Act stated that anybody with more than 1/16 Native American heritage lost their legal status as a white person. Later, many tribes would use blood quantum to determine citizenship within their own tribe and thus who benefitted from tribal windfalls such as casinos.

Sadly, the plague is definitely more relevant these days. The transmission of disease and sickness has long been something to be worried about but it is currently very much in our minds. Normal outbreaks are scary enough. One must only think of the movie Pandemic which depicted a global catastrophe. However, even our current situation is not quite as bad as a zombie virus. Having a virus that can slowly kill you is bad enough but one that also causes victims to lash out at the uninfected with violence is unthinkable. Thankfully, there is very little in our real world that compare. The three things that come to mind are pretty insidious, though. Toxoplasmosis causes strange behavior changes in animals. The most famous are mice who lose their fear of cats. There is, of course, the fungus that take over ants brains and make them into spore carriers. Finally, there is rabies which causes animals and people to go berzerk.

The first thing I noticed was the atmosphere. Everything is slow and easy but very tense. You get a really good sense of the characters and their community very quickly. I have watched quite a bit of fiction having to do with reservations so I was already fairly aware. Part of it is how good the cast is at their jobs. Michael Greyeyes is great at the reserved sheriff who becomes responsible for his people. Forest Goodluck is great as the troubled but good-hearted son who has to step up. Kiowa Gordon is fun to watch as a total asshole criminal who makes good in the apocalypse. Elle-Máijá Tailfeathers is solid as the stoic nurse who is in over her head. This is a movie about a first nation tribe up in Quebec and therefore some of the dialogue is in English and some of it is in Mi’kmaq language. A lot the cast are first nations tribe members.

The special effects are top notch. The gore is over the top which I actually find preferable in movies like this. This is an post-apocalyptic zombie movie that looks a lot like a First Nations version of Mad Max. I really dig the style. The costumes, practical prosthetics, and set design add up to be really good. There are definitely some gross moments but they do not linger on them. The lighting in the movie might be the best that I have seen yet this month. The shadows are so well done and add to the hopeless tone of the movie. The movie was shot on two different reservations standing in for a fictional reservation. It makes it feel authentic and cramped as a good post-apocalyptic zombie movie should.

Overall, I really loved this movie. Like any good zombie movie it is more about the interactions between who is left and the threat of what is out there. The acting is so immersive and the action is exciting. It also has a lot to say about white colonialism and the situation that we created.

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