The Dead Lands – Directed (2014) by Tao Fraser
Reviewed by Kate Nox
When warriors from a rival tribe commit sacrilege in his tribe’s burial ground, Hongi (James Rolleston), son of a Maori Chieftain reports the act to his father. When questioned about the act, the rival crew of hot heads declares war on the village, killing all but Hongi who has been knocked down a ravine and forgotten.
Coming to and finding himself the only survivor he pursues the killers into a forbidden area (the Deadlands). There he meets an invincible ghost warrior who is rumored to haunt the land.
Hongi discovers that the ghost is in fact, a fierce warrior, (Lawrence Makoare) although throughout the film there are times you wonder if the frightening warrior is truly a ghost or still human. Either way, he is tormented by a ghastly memory of loss in his own life which gives him a thorough understanding of the young boy whom he teaches to fight, and they join forces to hunt down and destroy the rival killers.
If you are a fan of action films, you will appreciate that The Dead Lands, in fact, follows the action film formula. There is plenty of bone-cracking, slashing, and gore to keep you interested.
If you are bothered by horrific characters who battle in close and bloody conflict, taunting their opponents with insane faces, wagging tongues, stomping, screeching and other acts designed to instill fear in the opponent, then I’d advise skipping this one. It is one of those movies where you want to reach out and smack the evil characters just for being so overwhelmingly nasty!
As for telling the story of loss, revenge, and horror lying in the psyche of both main characters, this movie is a winner.
The writers and director use a mix of tradition, mythology, and visions of dead ancestors to produce a truly spiritual “other-world” ending which will make you question what you’ve seen.
Thumbs up on horror and realism!