Noob Reviews: The Dead Lands (Season 01)
Updated: Jan 15
Please be advised that during the review, I have tried to avoid a lot of spoilers. However, there may still be a few included helping explain specific points.
What is The Dead Lands?
There are two current incarnations of The Dead Lands - one is the show we are about to review. And the other a fantastic film that was released in 2014. However, I will discuss the movie separately (and I am very excited to do so as I love it) as the stories are quite different.
The Dead Lands show brought to us by Shudder, is a New Zealand based horror-themed show that heavily revolves around Māori culture. In which the greatest warrior of all time (Waka) is sought out to help a chieftain's daughter (Mehe) rescue her dad after their village is attacked by an unknown enemy. But we soon find the unlikely duo thrust into a game that will see them go up against hordes of the undead, gods, and play the games of spirits who seek to both help and hinder their journey depending on the spirit's mood.
When I say, the duo is unlikely I mean this is the strongest possible sense as Waka is a lone wolf, an unmatched warrior that knows no fear or even the most basic of civil pleasantries. Still, after a near-death experience, he is granted a last chance at redemption and to find honour amongst the living. Mehe, on the other hand, is more a thinker and has never been allowed to train to be a fighter as that is a male's role in her tribe. Something that has only driven her to become smarter, harder and more fierce as the story progresses and she dives headfirst into many challenges the males around her recoil at or hesitate to get involved with.
Throughout the story, we will be taken on an adventure that sees the veil between Earth and the afterlife broken by a man-made scar that prevents the dead from truly dying. Instead, bringing them back with one basic need, the need to feed. On a zombie scale, I would say these are more 28 Days Later zombies with their usual motor skills and combat skills still very much intact, as opposed to the brain dead shamblers we are used to from things like Night of the Living Dead or Resident Evil. Unbeknown to Mehe and Waka though, the very people they seek help from along the way, may, in fact, be those whose occult experiments have caused their current predicament.
Do you have a trailer to show us?
- Official teaser from Shudder -
You can also find the listing on Amazon here.
When did it come out?
The Dead Lands show was released on a weekly schedule on both Shudder and Amazon’s Prime Video platform in January 2020 and the last episode of season one was released in March 2020.
There are currently 8 episodes, with each running around forty-five minutes. Although a second season has already been teased, we are still awaiting official details and potential release dates.
Who are some of the actors and actresses that we might know?
Darneen Christian (Mehe)
Joe Dekkers-Reihana (Kahi)
Maria Walker (Hinengana)
Nathaniel Lees (Te Kaipo)
Ria Paki (Te Ripiripi)
Te Kohe Tuhaka (Waka Nuku Rau)
What did you think of The Dead Lands (Season 01)?
When going into The Dead Lands, I was very excited as I had enjoyed the 2014 movie so much; however, I quickly realised they were two very different veins of the same universe. There was the movie on one hand which was about family honour and (human) tribe versus tribe conflict. And then on the other, the show that was brought to us by Shudder which had a very heavy horror undertone and a looser grasp around the tribe structure. So if you were a fan of the movie, definitely go into this with an open mind as it is still delightful on its own as a standalone.
Overall I thought The Dead Lands was great, it had a very moody atmosphere which is primarily due to the camera work, a beautiful filming location and the soundtrack. I found the story to be exciting and engaging, wanting to know the outcomes of characters. Their fates. And how the bigger picture would play out. I found the actors and actresses to be cast quite well, the dialogue was pretty sound for the most part, and the combat sequences were executed fantastically.
On the flip side, at times there is minimal dialogue, cannibalism plays a large part and is also considered acceptable. And vulgar language/excessive cursing are how many a fight either begins or rapidly escalate. Although these fit very well with the vibe that the show goes for, I thought I would mention these as quite a few people gave poor reviews and ratings based on the above. Personally, though, as I said, it never really came across as an issue while I was watching and is implemented quite well. When it comes to flaws with the show, there are not many to mention as some of the initial oddities I would have mentioned are explained in later episodes.
Overall a great watch and a refreshing new direction for The Dead Lands franchise. Should a season two be officially announced, which I am hoping they do actually do. I will definitely be giving it a watch.
What rating would you give The Dead Lands (Season 01)?
I would give the first season of The Dead Lands 4 out of 5 bananas.
An exciting blend of blood, guts, gore and righteous cannibals that will see both our anti-hero and his heroine travelling companion thrust into a fight for survival. Pretty solid story, lots of human interest aspects and combat. I would like to say it has a little bit of something for most viewers.
Thank you very much for checking out the review, and if you are interested in The Dead Lands (Season 01) and would like to check it out for yourself, to form your own opinion, you can check it out here.