The year is 1910. The West is dying. The American frontier is undergoing a violent transition from the ways of old to modern times, and Mexico has entered a prolonged period of bloody civil... See full summary »
The inmates and guards of a modern, clean and efficient maximum security wing are slowly and increasingly brutalised until they erupt in violence. Dark and macabre, and based in truth, the story is told in a traditional dramatic style combined with telephone interviews and narration. Written by
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Virtually plot less, somewhat documentary-style film about life inside a high-tech maximum security prison in Australia. Easily the scariest film I've ever seen about prison life, certainly the most claustrophobic, thanks in part to Nick Cave's chilling, drone-like score, which is a piece of work all by itself.
It's funny - most of the prison life you see portrayed in film just doesn't seem "real" (never having been in prison myself I cannot say for sure, of course). But it just never seems real. In watching "Ghosts...of the Civil Dead" I was reminded of Roger Ebert's review of the original "Jaws". When talking about the shark Ebert said "...the illusion is complete. It just plain feels like a real shark." That's what I can say about this film. I don't know how much of it is real (which of the characters was played by an actual con, or whatever) but it just plain feels like real prison life. And this is the only film I've ever seen that I can say that about, which is also the highest praise that I can give it.
This probably one of the most menacing films I've ever seen. Although there is not a lot of violence shown, the odor of violence all but oozes from the screen. Every word and every frame drips with the possibility of violence and brutality.
The film basically shows the events leading up a "lockdown" in this prison. There aren't any main characters (the prison is the main character, as Cave points out in an interview on the DVD) although there are a few little subplots here and there. Mostly the film just lurches at you in heavy gasps and you sit and watch in horror. I know I did.
I recently watched a documentary about life inside a maximum security prison in Utah, and it looked stunningly like what is shown in this film.
Highly recommended but be warned, this is a heavy film.
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