Director – Sion Sono (Suicide Club, Why Don’t You Play in Hell)
Starring – Nicolas Cage (Mandy, Con Air), Sofia Boutella (The Mummy, Star Trek: Beyond), and Bill Moseley (House of 1000 Corpses, Texas Chainsaw Massacre II)
Release Date – 2021
Rating – 3/5
Nic Cage has been on a fucking roll the last few years since he worked on Mandy. Since then he has appeared in some of the wildest and strangest horror and sci-fi films I have ever seen. Mandy is easily one of my favorite horror efforts of the last 10 years but Willy’s Wonderland and Color Out of Space shouldn’t be slept on either. When I heard that Cage was teaming up with horror legend Bill Moseley and acclaimed filmmaker Sion Sono for an action thriller titled Prisoners of the Ghostland.
This was probably my most anticipated release of the year and when RLJE Films announced the release of the film on blu I was quick to request a review copy. Once it arrived I tossed it to the front of my review pile. I want to thank RLJE for allowing me the opportunity to review this one.
**Spoiler Alert** The film follows a prisoner who is released from jail by the evil Governor (Moseley) to find his granddaughter. He is fitted with a suit that has explosives and sent into Ghostland to retrieve her. If he does not find here and return her within three days the suit will explode killing him. **Spoiler Alert**
I went into this one expecting some bat shit Sion Sono mayhem with the off the wall randomness that has been the new Nic Cage. The movie was just that but it struggled to pull all the aspects together into one coherent film. I liked it but it feels rushed and a lot of interesting angles were never fully explored.
The acting in this one is a lot of fun. Cage delivers a similar performance to what can be seen in Willy’s Wonderland, Jui Jitsu, and Primal. He is stone faced, showing no emotions but his delivery and mannerisms was a lot of fun to watch. I was disappointed in how they utilized Bill Moseley. I was expecting to see him portray a crazy ass crime lord or eccentric political figure that perfectly sums up his intense personality. However, we pretty much get a bearded version of his character of the mayor in 2001 Maniacs: Field of Screams. It wasn’t memorable and I feel like his talents, and namesake, was squandered here. The supporting cast was a lot of fun with some seriously fun performances that will most likely go unnoticed due to how overwhelming the story is.
The story for this one is Sono’s attempt at making a more western style film with his Japanese flair. With that being said, it’s painfully reminiscent of Escape from New York and Six-String Samurai. In theory, this is the kind of movie I’ve waiting my whole life for a filmmaker to tackle but the execution and drawn out scenes are takes a lot away from the overall film. I love how the characters are written and the story’s premise is very promising. However, the film is overflowing with long, dull, and disappointing scenes full of dialogue and poor flash backs that feel out of place. A little more action, story telling, and dialogue that is actually fun would have made this one an unforgettable film.
Finally, the film has some blood and some make-up effects but if you are looking for a bloody tale with Nic Cage running amok then you will be very disappointed. Overall, Prisoners of the Ghostland is fun for the most part but there is some missed opportunities here. We’ve all seen Mandy and Willy’s Wonderland by now and know that Cage is fully capable of delivering some bonkers and memorable performances but the way the film was shot ruins what could have been. It deserves at least one watch but don’t expect it to be your next favorite movie.