Rhymes for Young Ghouls Blends Horror and Drama [Review]

Rhymes for Young Ghouls may be labeled a drama, but it has horror running through its veins. Not the slasher or supernatural horror that quickly comes to mind when the genre is mentioned, but the real-life horror that you know has or is happening in the world. The film is a fictional account of an all too real event in Canadian history. It shines a light on the dark, sordid, state-funded and church-run Indian Residential School system that brutally attempted to assimilate native children for over a century.

Rhymes for Young Ghouls is set in the 1970's on the (fictional) Mi’gmaq Red Crow reserve, known as the Kingdom of the Crow, the film stars Aila (Kawennáhere Devery Jacobs), a tough teenage girl with artistic aspirations and a deep-seated hatred for the sadistic Indian Agent, Popper (Mark Antony Krupa). Popper runs the St. Dymphna’s Residential School and the Red Crow reserve with an iron fist and his heavy-handed tactics mobilize a group of Indigenous youth led by Aila to exact revenge.

The film marks the feature debut of Jeff Barnaby who pulled double duty as both writer and director. Barnaby makes a strong impact by painting a picture that can be related to by all regardless of where you come from. His ability to tell a fictional account in a real-life setting is both beautiful and gut-wrenching at the same time. Though the story he tells is very dramatic, he uses a lot from the horror genre to push the narrative forward.

Devery Jacobs gives a performance that is sure to garner the attention of many in Hollywood. Her acting ability is of a very high caliber which makes the story that much better. Jacobs carries the brunt of the film and never falters, delivering a character that feels real on every level. I hope we see more of Jacobs in the years to come as raw talent like this is too few and far in-between.

The film makes great use of visuals and lighting, and when it comes to the very opening scene you are hooked instantly. After a time jump we land in 1976 on (and around) Halloween, which works perfectly for the creepy, atmospheric tone that runs throughout the film. A few scenes will even surprise you with a scare or two. Even though it's a drama, there are amazing references to classics like Night of the Living Dead and The Car, and even nods to newer films like Pet Sematary and The Strangers.

Barnaby has done something that rarely works and that's infuse a powerful drama with elements of horror that tell a perfect story. If this is what he brings to the table, then I can not wait to see him tackle a full on horror film and, for that matter, any other genre he desires.

   **Rhymes for Young Ghouls had a release in January of  2014 but only in Canada. Now, though, it can be seen everywhere on Netflix Streaming and I highly recommend you check it out.

Rating: 9/10 Stars

Rich Stile  @TheDevilsEyes1

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