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David House [Cathode Ray Mission 06.11.20] New Zealand horror action fantasy

Howdy horror fans. If you also love fantasy films, but don't get squeamish at the sight of copious amounts of blood, gore and decapitations, then I've got just what you need to colour up the TV screen in your lock-down living room. Streaming on Shudder starting June 8 is The Dead Lands.

This 8 part series from New Zealand is set in an ancient mythical Maori past. It is inspired by the history, ritual and traditions of the Maori and features a 100% Maori/Pasifika cast. This epic supernatural story series is filled with fights featuring the Maori martial art of Mao Rakau. The Dead Lands serves well to honour the Maori people and their culture but this is definitely not History Channel material. You want action, well you're gonna get it, and even a few laughs to lighten the mood when it gets too grim.

The main character is Waka Nuku Rau, a fearsome warrior; a legendary figure; in fact, the greatest living warrior... except that he's dead. When the notorious Waku finds himself in the afterlife he is told by the ancestors that he is not worthy to stay there and must return to the world to atone for his barbaric sins. In order to redeem himself, he must find honour so that his sins may be forgiven. He is told that there's been a breach between the worlds of the living and the dead, and he's given the quest to find out who "broke the world" and fix it so that the dead can enter the afterlife.

Back in the world of the living he meets and teams up with Mehe, a spirited young woman who needs his help to rescue her father. It turns out that the spirits of the newly dead, the undead, the "things that have crossed into this world from the afterlife," are rampaging killers hunting the living, but unlike zombies, they only come out at night.

As Waku and his protege/sidekick Mehe proceed on their quest, Waku mentors her in the art of fighting and defending herself. This provides an opportunity for some of the lighter moments in their journey, which is mostly a nonstop battle and beheading gorefest. Along the way Waku is visited by the unsettled ghosts of ancestors, including several colourful encounters with his own deceased mother.

The New Zealand scenery is breathtaking, and one of the highlights of the series for me. I also loved the Maori cultural appreciation in the episodes. I found some of the acting to be a bit wooden and some of the dialogue uninspiring, but overall I thought that it was a fun adventure. I hope you too will have a "bloody" good time with it.

The Dead Lands is now streaming on Shudder.

Recommended Release: The Dead Lands

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