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September 27, 2021

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Mudflix: Rhymes for Young Ghouls

“This is what brings my people together… the art of forgetfulness”

It’s been a month now since I first was able to watch Rhymes for Young Ghouls, and I still think about it. It’s the sort of film that gives you chills on a regular basis long after viewing. It’s a horror film, but not the kind with traditional ghouls and goblins (even though there are a few). The monsters in this film are not apparitions, they are very real and based on very true stories.

We follow a young Red Crow girl surviving on the Red Crow Mi’g Maq reservation in 1976. The First Nation people in Canada didn’t have it much different than Native Alaskans and Americans did dealing with the US government. Their cultures were purposely destroyed through government and Federally run schools that forced them to speak only English. At the schools much worse things happened – the children were abused sexually and physically.

This is why Aila, the main character pays off the local Indian agent with a truancy tax. She makes the money through illicit means, by becoming a pot dealer – but not just in baggies – as she says in the film – “If you’re good at one thing, apply it to everything. You can turn anything into an art form. I’ve been doing this for years. You have whiskey, wine cognac dipped cigar blunts…” She’s making bank all the while her father is in prison. When he finally gets out of prison is when the real problems begin. Father, like daughter can’t let the Indian agents win.

Another reviewer in the Globe and Mail calls Rhymes for Young Ghouls, “A savvy native-Canadian genre film with a strong, beautiful and ingenious heroine whose courage helps right an injustice a lot more real than whatever Katniss is fighting for in The Hunger Games.” I couldn’t say it better. It would be very easy to let this film slip into a moral story about the monsters of our past but we’ve all seen those documentaries. Ghouls takes us on trip into a world where at least just this once the Indians come out on top… at least sort of. The film stays away from the Dances With Wolves ‘pity-porn,’ a phrase that the director Jeff Barnaby uses to describe a lot of movies about Natives. This is something he succeeds at so well, that often one forgets that these are Natives on a reservation – these are just humans you’re caring about.

Rhymes for Young Ghouls is available for steaming on Netflix right now.

You can also stream it on Amazon, Google Play – or purchase the DVD here.

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2 Responses to “Mudflix: Rhymes for Young Ghouls”
  1. juneaudream says:

    Until this..the film was not one..that had entered my awareness..and yet the fibers, the weave and the history..have been part of our..generations of watching, watching..so it is known..in our bones. Thank you.

  2. Zyxomma says:

    I’m eager to see this. I hadn’t heard of it till now. Thanks, Zach.

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