Prisoners Of The Ghostland (2021)

Quick Synopsis: A captured bank robber (Nicholas Cage) is tasked with retrieving a Governer’s adopted granddaughter/sex slave in this Japanese-inspired western horror. At one point his testicles get exploded.

Is Nicholas Cage picking films based almost entirely on how fucking strange they are lately? I mean, I’m all for it if it produces stuff like Willy’s Wonderland. That was fun and strange and a one of a kind movie. This was, I dunno. I should like this film, it’s an interesting mesh of genres (western and horror/sci-fi), both of which lend themselves to going weird and out-there. But I just didn’t mesh with this for some reason. I think it’s because when I was watching it all I could think was “I would much rather be playing this and experiencing it that way”. When you do a mash-up of genres like this does you need to do it in a way that highlights certain things from both genres which best suit the story you’re telling. The story should be driving the genres, but this feels like it was done the opposite way. It feels like they got the genres, made them into cars, drove them into each other and then made a script based on the result. The film itself is too surface level, there’s nothing underneath the obvious what you see. No meaning, no deep beauty to it. It feels so in debt to its stylistic forefathers that it doesn’t seem to have an identity of its own. Outside of “modern Japanese western” it’s incredibly flat and one dimensional. Visually it’s not that exciting either. I mean, it’s got a lot of colours, but they just don’t POP. If you look at a film like Blade Runner and how they use colour it’s a visual delight. In comparison this just looks like a Lite Brite a few minutes before the batteries die.

I really don’t have a lot to say about this, because there is nothing to say. I won’t remember this film for too long after I saw it. Maybe this is partly because I watched it at the “wrong” time. I feel this is supposed to be watched with friends while drunk, cheering and hollering at the screen. I watched it on my own in the middle of the day. But I watched Come True in a similar situation and that pulled me in.

The issue is that there’s nothing particularly wrong with this film (although Bill Mosely’s performance seems kind of wrong, he never feels like a character who is in control of the situation, he always looks too nervous and jumpy), there’s just not much I could find to particularly be too invested in. It just exists. It’s the cinematic equivalent of a big mac, fine in the moment, but I would never really go out and hunt it down except if I was drunk. A film like this should not be quite as boring as this one is.

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