Prisoners of the Ghostland – Fantasia 2021


Prisoners of the Ghostland – Fantasia 2021

A notorious criminal must break an evil curse in order to rescue an abducted girl who has mysteriously disappeared.

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A criminal is tasked with recovering a girl from a dangerous wasteland in . Hero () is an American criminal, who was caught after performing a botched bank robbery, with his trigger-happy partner Psycho (), in the Japanese village of Samurai Town. Sometime later, Hero is brought in front of Samurai Town's corrupt Governor (), who wants Hero to travel to the dangerous Ghostland and rescue his “granddaughter” Bernice (). Outfitted with a leather outfit covered with strategically placed explosives, Hero is given a total of 5 days to travel to The Ghostland and bring back Bernice, all while surviving the radioactive zombies that patrol the area.

Prisoners of the Ghostland is the English-language debut for Japanese filmmaker Sion Sono (Why Don't You Play in Hell?). Taking place in a strange post-apocalyptic world that seems to be an amalgamation of American and Japanese cultures, the plot of the film focus' on Nicolas Cage's Hero, who goes on a perilous journey into the titular Ghostland to try and bring back Sofia Boutella's Bernice, who ended up in The Ghostland trying to escape The Governor, who runs Samurai Town with an iron fist, along with his main henchman Yasujiro ().

On paper, combining the craziness of Nicolas Cage with the ultra-violent genre films of Sion Sono sounds like it would be awesome. However, Prisoners of the Ghostland ends up being a somewhat dull and tonally inconsistent riff on Escape from New York, which only gets somewhat fun in the bloody climax and even then it's Sofia Boutella who gets all the best moments. Then again, if all you want is to see Nicolas Cage being crazy, then Prisoners of the Ghostland has that as well.

Prisoners of the Ghostland screens as part of the 2021 Fantasia Film Festival

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Sean Patrick Kelly
Sean Patrick Kelly
Sean Patrick Kelly is a freelance film critic and blogger based in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.