Rhymes for Young Ghouls (Blu-ray) (2013)

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Released 22-Jul-2015

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Theatrical Trailer
Trailer-x 4 for other Accent releases
Rating Rated MA
Year Of Production 2013
Running Time 81:54 (Case: 85)
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Ads Then Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Jeff Barnaby
Accent Film Entertainment Starring Kawennahere Devery Jacobs
Glen Gould
Brandon Oakes
Mark Antony Krupa
Cody Bird
Kenneth D'Ailleboust

Case Standard Blu-ray
RPI ? Music Jeff Barnaby
Joe Barrucco

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English DTS HD Master Audio 5.1
English Dolby Digital 5.1
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 1080i
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking Yes, constantly
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

     It is 1976 and life is not easy for 15 year old Aila (Kawennahere Devery Jacobs) on the Red Crow Indian Reservation in Canada. Seven years previously her mother had committed suicide and her father Joseph (Glen Gould) was gaoled. Aila now lives with her alcoholic, druggie uncle Burner (Brandon Oakes). She dreams of escaping the life of the reservation but meanwhile efficiently runs her father’s drug distribution business and pays protection money to the sadistic and corrupt Indian Agent Popper (Mark Antony Krupa), who runs the reservation and the attached St. Dymphna School, which all Indian children are forced by law to attend. When Joseph is released from prison and returns to the reservation the violence and brutality escalate, with Aila caught firmly in the middle.

     Rhymes for Young Ghouls is a low budget independent Canadian film from writer / director / co-composer / editor Jeff Barnaby, his first feature film after three shorts. He is certainly ambitious for Rhymes for Young Ghouls is a surreal tragedy about the loss of identity and culture (something the indigenous people of Australia would relate to), family, lost dreams and lost lives, death and getting even, using some beautiful Canadian wilderness winter landscapes as well as voice over narration, dream sequences and, in one place, animation to tell the story. Barnaby also elicits naturalistic performances from his cast, especially Kawennahere Devery Jacobs who is excellent and mesmerising to watch, although some of the dialogue is pretty chunky and the film tends to meander at times.

     There is no doubt about Barnaby’s good intentions with Rhymes for Young Ghouls or where his heart lies. Whites, Indian Agents and the Catholic Church are shown in poor light. There seems little doubt that the Canadian Indian Act led to corruption and exploitation of the Indian peoples by unscrupulous whites and Popper is a totally unpleasant, if one note, character. The problem is that this is a film with suicide, drugs, drink and almost random violence so while the whites are all brutal, corrupt and sadistic, the Indians, especially uncle Burner, are not any more attractive, except for Aila, who is a drug dealer. But at least she is trying to escape her depressing existence, something the others are not.

     While Rhymes for Young Ghouls can feel meandering, some of the images of the Canadian wildlands presented by cinematographer Michel St. Martin are quite beautiful and, aided by the performance of Jacobs, the story builds to a powerful conclusion.

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Transfer Quality


     Rhymes for Young Ghouls is presented in an aspect ratio of 2.35:1, in 1080i using the MPEG-4 AVC code. This is the original ratio.

     Detail in the film is good. Fitting the winter setting, the colours are dull. Browns dominate, while the sky is mostly grey and the water of the lake a muted blue / grey. Blacks and shadow detail are good, contrast and brightness consistent, skin tones OK.

     Other than some slight motion blur against trees, I did not notice any marks or artefacts.

     No subtitles are provided although soft yellow subtitles automatically translated the sections of Indian dialogue.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


     Audio is a choice of English DTS-HD MA 5.1 or English Dolby Digital 5.1.

     I listened to the DTS-HD but in truth the audio was quite front oriented with little in the rears or surrounds except music and minor ambience. Some dialogue was hard to understand due to accents or soft delivery, when accessible subtitles would have helped. I did not notice anything directed to the sub-woofer except for one explosion.

     The score by Jeff Barnaby and Joe Barrucco was effective; it was used with subtlety and was supported by a range of traditional music.

     There are no lip synchronisation issues.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


Trailers (8:02)

     These trailers play on start-up: Bad Turn Worse, Late Phases, R100 and WolfCop. They can also be selected from the menu, plus a trailer for Rhymes for Young Ghouls (1:30).

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

     Amazon.com lists only a Region 1 US DVD release of Rhymes for Young Ghouls; no details of extras but in the aspect ratio is given as 1.85:1. There are no Blu-ray’s listed and nothing in the UK, so our release is it.


     Rhymes for Young Ghouls can feel meandering, but it ends up a powerful and sometimes depressing mix of sadness, brutality and the surreal that mostly works, principally due to an excellent central performance by Kawennahere Devery Jacobs and some beautiful cinematography. The film is rated MA for the violence and the constant “f” word.

     The video and audio are fine, trailers are the only extras.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Ray Nyland (the bio is the thing)
Thursday, September 10, 2015
Review Equipment
DVDSony BDP-S580, using HDMI output
DisplayLG 55inch HD LCD. This display device has not been calibrated. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderNAD T737. This audio decoder/receiver has not been calibrated.
AmplificationNAD T737
SpeakersStudio Acoustics 5.1

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