A high-tech maximum security prison in the middle of the Austrialian outback holds only the most violent and psychotic monsters. The facility is a very repressive place, with the cruelty towards the prisoners even coming into question. These cruel, unnecessary acts against the prisoners grow harsher and harsher as the months pass eventually causing a rebellion among the prisoners leading to horrific violence. John Hillcoat's first feature Ghosts...of the Civil Dead, examines the idea of how cruelty besets cruelty, and typically escalation more so than anything. It's a study of circular violence and the darkness of men. The prison in the film is really the main character. There are lots of various characters which the narrative encompasses, but the backbone of the story is the thematic impending doom from escalating tension which takes place - leading to a horrifically violent conclusion. This has got to be one of the best feature film debuts, with Hillcoat showing striking command over his vision, giving the film a documentary sort of feel. As each month passes, we are updated, with text, as to the latest violence that as happened, showing how this is a force of nature that will not simply go away in time. Narration is used throughout, explaining how this place is hell on earth and giving insights into the situation from multiple characters' viewpoints. The film is not biased at all as it splits its time between the prisoners and guards, showing the behind the scenes of these desperate worlds, as both of which feel imprisoned in this hellish place. As you can probably tell from now, Ghosts...of the Civil Dead is extremely bleak and atmospheric, with visual design adding to the tension of it all. Nick Cave is a highlight of the film, as one of the more psychotic inmates, giving a incredibly creepy, unchained performance, showing no fear of anything or anyone. John Hillcoat's feature debut is a startling film which is like no other prison film before it.
Love of all things cinema brought me here.