Experience the Wacky Psychedelic Love Child of "Mad Max: Fury Road" and "Kung Fu Hustle": Watch "Prisoners of the Ghostland" on AMC+ and Shudder
There’s just no other way to put it: Sion Sono’s Prisoners of the Ghostland is just downright bizarre. But is it a bizarre work of genius, a bizarre flop, or something in between? This absurd dystopian action flick scores so highly in some categories and so poorly in others that it’s difficult to rate the film overall. The production design is outrageously fun, the cinematography is breathtaking, and Joseph Trapanese’s score is bursting at the seams with memorable motifs that work perfectly in a genre-driven movie. But the script? Let’s just say it’s a good thing Nicolas Cage has so much experience pushing bad dialogue to its limits. Thanks to Cage’s performance, Prisoners of the Ghostland falls into the “it’s so bad, it’s good” category. If you can accept the movie for what it is — a wacky celebration of genre created by an experienced director who has earned the right to do whatever he wants with his movies — you might not hate Prisoners of the Ghostland too much.
On Wednesday, September 29, 2021, horror streaming service Shudder will introduce a new serial murder movie to its library, Seance. The movie was written and directed by Simon Barrett, an experienced horror writer whose previous credits include You’re Next (2011) and Blair Witch (2016). Seance, however, is his feature directorial debut. The cast includes a few somewhat recognizable faces including Suki Waterhouse (The Divergent Series: Insurgent) and Madisen Beaty (Once Upon a Time… In Hollywood). If you’re wondering what a filmmaker can do with the serial murder genre that hasn’t already been done, you’ll be disappointed to hear that Seance does absolutely nothing to answer that question. The movie briefly gestures to some intriguing and unique horror themes, but in the end, it turns out something like Scream Queens (2015-2016) stripped of any and all creativity. Seance could have been a cringey disaster – but thankfully, the cast gives solid, natural performances that hold the movie together.
“Hellbender” shows off one family’s filmmaking talents but falls flat under the weight of its poorly developed plot and dialogue. [Fantasia International Film Festival]
Originally published on Elements of Madness.
From Rosemary’s Baby to False Positive, Psycho to Mommie Dearest, motherhood and the horror genre are a match made in heaven. The labyrinth of psycho-socio-political issues surrounding motherhood, pregnancy, and the mother-child relationship has truly found its home in horror cinema. One of the horror flicks showing at this year’s Fantasia International Film Festival, Hellbender, is not only about motherhood, but also stars a real-life mother-daughter duo. In fact, Hellbender was written, directed, shot, edited, scored, and produced by the four members of the Adams/Poser family: John Adams, Toby Poser and their two daughters, Lulu and Zelda Adams. All four family members also make an appearance in this occult horror film, with Zelda and Toby taking the lead roles. The family filmmaking feat is incredibly impressive, and Hellbender’s high production value showcases the family’s talents and creativity. Unfortunately, however, one little filmmaking misstep can bring a movie crashing down. In this case, that one misstep is the dialogue. While Hellbender is otherwise horrifically beautiful, the script and plot development leave much to be desired.
"Our embodied spectator, possibly perverse in her fantasies and diverse in her experience, possesses agency...finally, she must now be held accountable for it."