Monday, March 13, 2023

Deadland (2023) SXSW 2023

 Death is only a horizon. A Horizon is only the limit of our sight.

I am still working on getting a handle on DEADLAND. I’m still trying to work out what the film is and what exactly I think of it. I don’t mean that in a bad way, rather that in the two weeks since I saw the film and when it premiered at SXSW it hasn’t left me. It has instead grown in my opinion and had me thinking about the supernatural thriller genre in general.

The plot of the film as a border patrol agent finding a dying man in a river. Thinking he is dead he is shocked when he sits up in the back of his truck. Despite the man saying he wants to go to El Paso he takes him to his station house where one of his fellow agents is an EMT. Things happen soon after and the man is killed. The agents the decide to cover up his death. However he doesn’t stay dead as the group continue to see him. Things become further complicated when the agent’s long lost father appears at his house.

Possessing a bleak tone this thriller isn’t what you expect. Going in unexpected ways things are not what we think (hence my willingness to give a seemingly more detailed plot). Two weeks on I’m still not sure what it all means or how it all hangs together, however I do feel uneasy about it all. This is a film that isn’t operating on a completely intellectual level but rather on an emotional one. The unease and discomfort are operating on a purely visceral level. I say this because what happens doesn’t really make sense on a intellectual level. I don’t know why these things happen, but then again since it’s the work of someone not of this world I don’t think it has to make sense.

I know saying it doesn’t have to make sense goes against what I frequently say, but the reality is I’m against a film not making sense on it’s own terms, and out side of one thing that I can’t mention, this film actually makes sense on its own terms. Its operating in its own confined headspace and it’s claustrophobic and frightening.

I really like DEADLAND. It’s a haunting film in it’s own world two steps off from our own.

Its definitely worth a look for those who are tired of the typical by the numbers presentations of most supernatural thrillers.

1 comment:

  1. I enjoyed your thoughtful commentary about Deadland and was equally moved by the film. You said you don’t know why things are happening. I could be wrong, but I think this film is about Angel making peace with his estranged father before he himself becomes a father. His wife is pregnant and his father returns home. Seems like the baby on the way is the catalyst here. I can further connect the dots to the migrant and his contribution/meaning to the story, but I am afraid I will give away spoilers.