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Ghosts of the Civil Dead Review

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In an unspecified jail in the not-too-distant future, the inmates are brutalised to the point of rebellion, which causes it to be put into a state of 'lockdown' where where the prisoners are confined indefinitely to their cells.

★★★★★

Brutal murders, brutal homosexual rapes, brutal disfigurements - Ghosts of the Civil Dead has them all in horrific harrowing detail.

A first feature for director Hillicoat, producer Evan English and cult Australian pop star Nick Cave, it's set in a maximum security prison that on the inside looks more like a well-scrubbed McDonalds.

The film traces a vicious sequence of events which lead to 'the centre of human containment' reaching a state of 'lockdown' where the prisoners are confined indefinitely to their cells. The precise location of this ghastly joint is unspecified and the period is in the not-too-distant future, but the various events are taken from real incidents in American and Australian jails in recent years. It's the documentary style of presentation (reminiscent of Scum) that lends such a gruesome reality to the blood-letting and human degradation that spills from practically every frame. Of the 90-strong cast, 50 have actually done time themselves, one of them a 19-year stretch. Cave, frontman of The Birthday Party and The Bad Seeds, had a hand in developing the script and heads up the non-jailbird members of the cast in the role of a psychotic.

Powerful, bleak, harrowing and - many will consider - offensive. See it if you want your sensibilities stretched.

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