Blood, revenge, cannibalism and the real-life Haka Dance…
Video Services Corp.,
The Dead Lands
A film by Toa Fraser
Select cities across Canada
Also available on VOD and iTunes
Special Presentation – 2014 Toronto International Film Festival
“Heightened performances give an epic edge to a sumptuously photographed coming-of-age tale fired by honor and revenge.” The Hollywood Reporter
“Impressive scenery and action elevate a tale of pre-colonial Maori warfare that is nonetheless brutal….” Variety
The Dead Lands is a bloody coming-of-age saga amid the Maori martial arts death-matches called Haka that has left audiences at turns fascinated and shocked.
Directed by Toa Fraser, the allegorical movie about war, revenge and how to truly honour the dead, follows a young warrior named Hongi (James Rolleston) – the son of his tribe’s chief – who discovers that the new leader of a long-ago enemy tribe is looking for excuses to renew hostilities. Hongi survives an attack that obliterates his family and his entire tribe, and sets out for revenge against the arrogant Wirepa (Te Kohe Tuhaka), who has brazenly chosen to lead his victorious warriors home through a supposedly-cursed stretch called the “ Dead Lands”.
The curse is said to include a monster, who’d once ate an entire tribe and will feast on any warriors foolish enough to enter his domain.
Emboldened by honour and utter willingness to give up his life for revenge, Hongi follows Wirepa into the Dead Lands, and is the first to encounter the haunted creature that lives within. The monster/Warrior (Lawrence Makoare) turns out to have much in common with the young novice who enters his lair, and sees in his quest a chance to make peace with the dead.
Fraser’s story is action-packed, with quiet, existential moments and a unique mix of the exotic and familiar (fans of international rugby will recognize the Haka Dance, employed by New Zealand’s All Blacks to intimidate opponents, placed in its proper context as a terrorizing device of aboriginal war).
“Maori is very much an integral part of New Zealand’s identity,” says Fraser. “These ancestral action stories are the stuff of kids’ imaginations, and it was very easy to get action from the main cast, because they had all grown up throwing spears at each other.
“What’s crazy – given the rich material – is that nobody had set such a movie in pre-colonialism before. We wanted to make it good, so that it could be the first of many such stories.”
About Video Services Corp
Founded in 1993 by former rock critic Jonathan Gross, Video Services Corp. (VSC) is a leading independent all-platform film distributor with offices in Toronto and Los Angeles. VSC’s DVD catalogue includes Corner Gas, Sharknado, Richard Lewis: Bundle of Nerves, and Don Cherry’s Rock’em Sock’em Hockey series. Recent theatrical releases include Frank, starring Michael Fassbender, Alan Partridge, starring Steve Coogan, Iranian vampire sensation A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night, Cannes Selection Life Itself, and TIFF selection mockumentary What We Do In The Shadows. Upcoming releases include Cannes un Certain Regard winner White God, the Oscar®-nominated Glen Campbell: I’ll Be Me, and winner of a Sundance Grand Jury Prize, The Wolfpack.