Blood Quantum (2019)

Director-writer Jeff Barnaby’s film begins with Gisigu (Stonehorse Lone Goeman) a Mi’kmaq fisherman in the fictional Red Crow community in Quebec gutting his catch of the day, and horrifyingly, the fish doesn’t stay dead. Zombie fish set the tone for what’s about to transpire over 98 minutes in this apocalyptic Indigenous horror film.

Gisigu’s son is the community’s sheriff, Traylor (Michael Greyeyes), who takes several calls that lead to re-animated corpses. His ex-wife Joss (Elle-Máijá Tailfeathers), their son Joseph (Forrest Goodluck), his half-brother ‘Lysol’ (Kiowa Gordon) and Charlie (Olivia Scriven) the pregnant white girlfriend of Joseph, are all introduced in the first third of the film as zombies are just beginning to take over the world.

From there, Blood Quantum jumps to six months later, where it’s revealed that the Indigenous community is immune from the plague that’s turning everyone into zombies, and that Red Crow has turned into a compound.

Lysol, James (Kawennáhere Devery Jacobs) and Moon (Gary Farmer) are the leaders of a group that doesn’t believe they should be so welcoming to non-Indigenous people trying to enter the safety of the compound which conflicts with the more welcoming views of Joseph, Traylor and Joss.

As for that title, blood quantum refers to the measurement of how much “Indian blood” a person has, which dictates whether they can be an Indigenous member of a community or not. (Many First Nations in Canada still use variations of blood quantum rules to manage membership.) It’s a very gory and entertaining horror film. The additional commentary that flips the script on colonial-Indigenous relationships is a smart and rare approach, creating a singular entry in the zombie sub-genre. 


Elle-Máijá Tailfeathers, Forrest Goodluck, Kawennáhere Devery Jacobs, Kiowa Gordon, Michael Greyeyes, Olivia Scriven, Stonehorse Lone Goeman




Horror, Indigenous Stories, TIFF

Canadian connection

Writer/Director Jeff Barnaby
Kahnawake and Listuguj reserves in QC & Campbellton, New Brunswick
Garnered 10 nominations at the 2021 Canadian Screen Awards.