Every horror fan knows the painful reality of being excited for a film, only to be let down with how terrible it actually is. Then there is the flip side to that devastating coin — we expect a film to be ‘just okay,’ something maybe worthy of one watch, which turns out to be amazing in almost every way. That, my friends, is how I feel about Jeff Barnaby’s Blood Quantum.
It starts with animals, but soon after, humans start coming back to life. No one can escape the path these un-dead traverse, except for the people of the Red Crow reserve who seem to be immune to the zombie plague.
As I have already alluded to, I did not expect much from 2019’s Blood Quantum. I gave the trailer a watch and thought it would be an alright entry in an already over-saturated horror sub-genre. Imagine my surprise when I realized just how great this movie actually is!
Writer, director, and editor Jeff Barnaby has taken the tropes of the zombie films we all know and love and mixed in things that no other creator has done before. A member of the Mi’kmaq tribe himself, Barnaby has written about a cast of characters who don’t often see the light of day in horror, at least not in my experience.
All of those characters are wonderfully portrayed by a group of talented inviduals, all of which were complete strangers to me before now. Michael Greyeyes who plays the tribal sherriff, Traylor, may be familiar to those who watch AMC’s “Fear the Walking Dead.” I have not watched that show since the first season, however, so Blood Quantum is my introduction to the man’s work.
He is joined by countless others who also impressed me equally with the telling of this horrific story. While Blood Quantum does offer the ever-welcomed blood and guts that fans expect from a zombie film, it also brings much more to the table.
I often find that the best film watching experience comes from those movies that don’t ‘stick to the script’ so to speak. There is no need to pigeonhole yourself to one genre. Why not take the best from this genre over here and sprinkle in a little from that one over there? That is just what Barnaby has done.
While hordes of the bloodthirsty re-animated dead run rampant on seemingly the entire planet, Traylor and his family are dealing with many other issues. Strained relationships, past mistakes, and more all aide in creating more dimension to Blood Quantum‘s characters, breaking them out of any typical horror film character’s cookie cutter mold. You will meet characters you like, ones that you dislike, ones that you love, and ones that you downright hate. This type of character development is not always present in horror and I love Barnaby for bringing this to the table.
I hope most of you guys out there respond as well as I did to the writing and the script, but if you are a person who just wants death and gore in your zombie films, then, you, too, will not be disappointed.
Each kill gets more and more gruesome as the film’s 98 minutes rolls on. Decapitations, shotgun-smashed faces, chainsaw-mangled bodies, and more are all present in tremendously bloody fashion. Even better than just plain old visceral carnage is that which is done using practical effects and that is exactly what Blood Quantum offers. There was literally no sign of any digital effects whatsoever, at least none that I could identify.
Blood Quantum at Home
A Shudder original, Blood Quantum is available now to stream on the Shudder app. If you prefer watching your movies on physical format like myself, it is also available now on DVD and Blu-ray from RLJE Films.
This new Blu-ray home release presents the film in 1080p Widescreen 2.35:1 format with a DTS-HD 5.1 audio track. There is also an English SDH subtitle track available for the deaf and hard of hearing.
Sadly, there are no bonus features on the disc. I would have loved to watch some behind-the-scenes featurettes that dive into the making of the film, but unfortunately I do not get any of that here.
Blood Quantum is a surprisingly good time from start to finish. It is a film that I thought would just be ‘okay,’ but instead turned out to be one of the favorites that I’ve seen this year.
The fantastic acting throughout is only outmatched by the even more fantastic practical special effects work. There are also some beautifully crafted animated scenes interspersed throughout, adding even more layers to this already impressive horror drama.
The only other movie that I can remotely think of comparing this to is Jim Mickle’s Stake Land and its subsequent sequel. If you are a fan of either of those films, do yourself a favor and give this one a watch, as I give Blood Quantum 5 new chainsaw chains out of 5.