Prisoners of the Ghostland is weird even for a modern-day Nic Cage movie. This one comes from director Sion Sono, who is trying his best to outdo Takashi Miike for weird, esoteric Japanese films.
The film takes place in a surreal world that is a mix of ancient Japan, the American old west, and modern times. Just go with it…
Cage plays a violent criminal who gets caught after a bank robbery goes south when his partner (Nick Cassavetes) goes on a mad-dog killing spree. Years later the dictator-like ruler of the town, played by Bill Moseley, forces Cage into going into a haunted area to retrieve his runaway adopted child.
The ruler keeps him on mission using a very Escape From New York method via a suit with an exploding neck, arm, and nutsack gimmick with a count-down clock. Not one, but three threats.
It’s a strange one. Prisoners Of The Ghostland is heavy on the metaphor and symbolism so beloved by subversive Japanese filmmakers that, in this hillbilly’s opinion, is a bit out of place and too esoteric. It didn’t ruin the film for me, but it was a little tiresome.
If you liked Mandy and Willy’s Wonderland you will like this one. If you didn’t like those, then you’d better pass on this one.
It is violent, but not the level of violence I was hoping for. We get sword fighting, hooker beheading, minigun slaughtering, 6-shooter gun fighting, arm exploding, testicle exploding, child-killing, nuke blasts, and plain old fist fighting.
Alongside cage, Prisoners Of The Ghostland stars Nick Cassavetes, Bill Moseley, Sofia Boutella, and Tak Sakaguchi.
I don’t know how to rate this one for a general audience. Maybe Rotten Tomatoes might help with this one:
“…the film has an approval rating of 75% based on reviews from 77 critics, with an average rating of 6.3/10. The website’s critics consensus reads, “Prisoners of the Ghostland is far from Sono’s most distinctive work, but viewers in the mood for a deliriously gonzo genre mash-up featuring an explosive performance from Nicolas Cage just might have a ball.”
Hmmmm… maybe this needs two ratings. One for fans of the genre, one for normies.
Prisoners Of Ghostland releases September 17, 2021.