Sion Sono’s Prisoners of the Ghostland is one of Nic Cage’s strangest films — and, based on the visuals alone, is destined to become a cult classic.
Nicolas Cage’s 2021 film Prisoners of the Ghostland is an excessive film. Directed by Sion Sono — an award-winning Japanese director known for being subversive and idiosyncratic — the movie is a highly stylized representative fable that gleefully and deliriously blends genres, themes, and images to create a unique (if at times, bizarre) experience. The plot is deceptively simple, but the story is told through such a perturbing assortment of visuals and events that it’s nigh-incomprehensible, seemingly by design. Sono’s Prisoners of the Ghostland is easily one of Cage’s strangest films — and, based on the visuals alone, is destined to become a cult classic.
Prisoners of the Ghostland was written by Aaron Hendry and Reza Sixo Safai. On a basic level, the story follows Hero (played by Cage) on a mission to retrieve the young woman Bernice (Sofia Boutella), who ran away from her adoptive “grandfather,” The Governor (Bill Moseley). Hero takes the assignment largely against his will; he’s a prisoner, thanks to his role in a bank-robbery-gone-wrong with former partner Psycho (Nick Cassavetes). Hero is fitted with a special suit housing various bombs that are designed to prevent transgressions, and he is given a maximum of five days to complete the job — with his failure having fatal consequences.