Say what you will, but Nicholas Cage has been on a pretty good creative run as of late. Mandy, The Color Out of Space, and Pig have been celebrated thanks to the actor’s performances while films like Willy’s Wonderland and Jiu Jitsu have kept Cage in fun, pulpy roles that continue to propel him into the zeitgeist. Prisoners of the Ghostland looks to strike somewhere in the middle. The film boasts a fun-filled, bonkers plot overflowing with an array of creative visual choices while also having a list of great actors at its disposal. Sofia Boutella (Atomic Blonde), Bill Moseley (The Devil’s Rejects), Nick Cassavetes (Face/Off), and Tak Sakaguchi (Versus) will all be backing up Nic Cage on what he has dubbed “the wildest film I’ve ever made.” RJLE films’ upcoming Prisoners of the Ghostland looks like nothing short of a wide-eyed acid trip. The film looks like the result of sticking Blade Runner, The City of Lost Children, Into the Badlands, The Road Warrior, and Escape from New York into a blender.
So, what’s in the trailer? An eccentric Bill Moseley doing his best Lee Van Cleef impersonation in a Colonel Sanders getup straps a bomb to the neck and other sensitive areas of Nicholas Cage, motivating Cage to retrieve Moseley’s granddaughter Bernice (Boutella) from an otherworldly place known as the Ghostland. If our bomb-strapped and leatherbound hero cannot bring Bernice home in five days, then…boom goes the dynamite. It’s a pretty straightforward plot, but the fun is in the imagery here. Whether it’s the group of people appearing mummified as a shadowy death-like figure walks in the backdrop, the unfinished clock on the misty smokestack, people wearing broken porcelain baby doll faces, or the Mortal Kombat styled fights in the trailer, something is bound to catch your attention, and Director Sion Sono knows how to get your attention.
Sono is no stranger to violent, twisted films. I was first introduced to his filmography with 2010’s zany fish-store murder movie Coldfish, and for as messed-up as that was, it only gets more insane the deeper you go into his films. Strange Circus, Tag, Suicide Club, and Why Don’t You Play in Hell? are all entertaining in the most mesmerizing fashions. Sono has been at the head of many film debates over the years as to whether or not his approach is satirical or serious and, in those aforementioned films, has become one of the most divisive directors out there. In essence, no one can get a handle on Sono’s provocative, esoteric films.
To hear Sono tell it, however, Japanese films may be to blame for his love of subversive storytelling. In an interview with 3AM’s David F. Hoenigman,
“Japanese movies are in the tradition of [Yasujirō] Ozu’s family. The peaceful family. The lovely family. They always make these movies. Peaceful family. Lovely couple. This is not real.”
One thing is for sure, Prisoners of the Ghostland is destined to stir up some conversation.
Prisoners of the Ghostland is showing at the Fantasia Film Festival on August 20 and 23 before making its way to theaters and VOD on September 17.