Rhymes for Young Ghouls

It’s 1976 on Red Crow M’igMaq Reservation. The Indian Act has hit its 100th anniversary and, as the title cards state in the opening of Jeff Barnaby’s Rhymes for Young Ghouls, Her Majesty’s Government insists that every Indian child under the age of 16 must attend residential school. 1976 also marks the 15th year of a young woman named Alia, played by revelatory newcomer Devery Jacobs. Alia has less than a year to go until she can finally live outside the shadow of the rez, for she has been fortunate to escape the school by running drugs for her uncle Burner (Brandon Oakes) in order to pay off the school’s nasty Indian Agent, Popper (Mark Antony Krupa).
Rhymes for Young Ghouls P2Rhymes for Young Ghouls  (Canada, 90 min.)Written and directed by Jeff Barnaby

Starring: Kawennáhere Devery Jacobs, Glen Gould, Brandon Oakes, Roseanne Supernault, Mark Antony Krupa

I have not had the opportunity to see this movie. Typical small town Canada does not get to see Canadian movies – distribution being controlled by the American chains makes that a given. Of course now distribution is a moot point, small theatres, like the one in our town, closed when the cost of changing over to digital projection became an insurmountable barrier.

Rhymes for Young Ghouls 1

I hope to see the film at some point. It conveys the dark horror that Canada is only slowly accepting.  It will be  movies such as these to bring the reality of the residential school system and its impact on both the First Nations People and Canada into a visual & symbolic  language that the average Canadian can appreciate. Dusty well-meaning research  and government wall paper separate us from the hard emotional truths that the country must face; only by entering the popular vernacular of cinema can we bridge the chasm of ignorance and denial.

Rhymes for Young Ghouls P1

The posters very effectively construct a reality that young film goers will be familiar with.  While the two  posters using shots from the movie play to the contemporary horror marketing. The artwork in the one poster suggests the current styles found in mature comics & graphic novels, which will also draw in the audience that will play to Native & non-Native.

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Rhymes for Young Ghouls was written and directed by Jeff Barnaby

Mass Media  both shapes and conveys messages, which carry values, beliefs, and ideologies.  Using the tropes of the revenge-horror movie in combination with the real horrors of the residential schools constructs a reality where the young First Nations & Canadian audience can share an experience & understanding; hopefully, this movie, and others that will follow, can produce a common ground to start a conversation. In Dark Cinema Fantasy can be found truth.



Rhymes for Young Ghouls - Devery Jacobs

Kawennáhere Devery Jacobs in the role of Aila.

I recommend you read the Kawennáhere Devery Jacobs’ CBC interview –

Rhymes for Young Ghouls breakthrough role for young Quebec Mohawk.

For  an excellent exploration of the importance of this movie from a First Nations perspective please read

Why every Canadian should be haunted by Rhymes for Young Ghouls by âpihtawikosisân (Chelsea Vowel)  .