Prisoners of the Ghostland

Prisoners of the Ghostland ★★★½

Sion Sono's Prisoners of the Ghostland is truly wild and I'd expect nothing less. It is big, loud, and transgressive, filled with deranged imagery, bloody violence, and general madness. It's a Japanese western, ending up a fusion of cultures and cinematic tropes. Sono has always existed in a uniquely weird place within cinema, but Prisoners of the Ghostland is definitely distinctive. It's a brightly coloured mess, with a plot that makes little sense and constant style over substance. Sono loves being random, and this is a film with impromptu songs and all sorts of weird contrivances. The story is just a big list of MacGuffins and setup. Unfortunately Prisoners of the Ghostland is a lesser Sono, unable to deliver the satire or brilliant high-concept abstractions of his best work. Instead this is just a standard post-apocalyptic plot given some goofy stylings. Nicolas Cage fits Sono's style well and elevates the material, but it's still lacking. As a side note, the film is also less sexual than I expected, given this is a Sion Sono movie. Prisoners of the Ghostland kept me amused, since this level of silliness is always entertaining. It may not add up to much, but its mayhem is fun.

2021 Ranked