*** For as long as one side’s been the horde and the other survivors, the zombie narrative has been ripe for moral and political bite, critiquing slavery, consumerism, global warming and more. Now, for an urgent indigenous people’s take on the genre, writer-director Jeff Barnaby (Rhymes for Young Ghouls) brings the zombie outbreak to a fictionalized version of his place of origin: the Mi’gmaq reserve in Quebec. On its face, Blood Quantum is a capably directed small-town bloodbath, and a fitting entry in the horror film library. There’s a katana in the mix, an upstanding police officer, and the acting ranges from serviceable to apocalyptically ominous on the parts of Kiowa Gordon (The Red Road) and Gary Farmer (Dead Man). Mostly it’s the point of view that elevates Blood Quantum, bringing something new to the reanimated-corpse thriller. Without much explicit commentary, Barnaby’s film asks how a community under centuries of duress can confront a new threat that resembles old perils: diseased blankets, broken bargains and poisoned natural resources. “I’m not leaving this land again,” proclaims a Mi’gmaq defender during a pivotal stand. You won’t know whether to pump your fist or dry your eyes. NR. CHANCE SOLEM-PFEIFER. Amazon Prime, Shudder.
Have a Good Trip: Adventures in Psychedelics
*** Most people agree you don't have to take acid to find out what it's like—countless song lyrics, at least one adventurous friend, or even Google will tell you all you need to know. Donick Cary's Netflix doc uses a treasure trove of celebrities to go into more detail, allowing the subjects to spin funny anecdotes about how cool, singular and harmless LSD trips really are. Although Have a Good Trip aims for lighthearted entertainment rather than presenting a scientific thesis, you walk away feeling like it might be safe to give it a try—or give it a second go. As stars like A$AP Rocky, David Cross and Ben Stiller describe themselves tripping balls, revue-style reenactments and '60s album cover-inspired animation play on the screen. The now-deceased Carrie Fisher and Anthony Bourdain have some of the more memorable stories, the latter's involving a road trip, shrooms and an almost-dead stripper. Nick Offerman serves as host, wearing a lab coat while explaining, "Don't get me wrong, drugs can be dangerous. But they can also be hilarious." A couple slow sections aside, Cary's directorial debut passes the acid test with flying colors. TV-MA. ASHER LUBERTO. Netflix.
** At one point in The Lovebirds, Jibran (Kumail Nanjiani) comments on the dramatic misadventures he's suddenly found himself in with soon-to-be-ex-girlfriend Leilani (Issa Rae): "This is like The Amazing Race, but with dead people." And that's essentially what you get from this film. Nanjiani and director Michael Showalter were last paired up in the award-winning The Big Sick, and though the talented Showalter has two dream leads in Rae and Nanjiani, The Lovebirds never elevates itself beyond "this is fine" territory. The plot involves Jibran and Leilani getting thrown into a convoluted conspiracy mere moments after agreeing to break up, sending them on the run from both the law and a mysterious killer played by Paul Sparks (Waco, House of Cards). While the desire to sit back and let Nanjiani and Rae shine is perfectly understandable, The Lovebirds consists of little more than throwing its highly talented stars into increasingly ridiculous situations and letting them riff upon said ridiculousness. This results in some funny moments, but overall The Lovebirds is another average—if somewhat charming—entry in the ever-growing content receptacle that is the Netflix library. R. DONOVAN FARLEY. Netflix.