King of Devil’s Island (2010) – Released on DVD/ Blu-ray 29th Oct

Directed by:
Written by: ,
Starring: , , ,


King of Devils Island (2010)

Running Time: 120 mins

Certificate: 12

Reviewer: David Gillespie – Official HCF Artist

Based on the true events that took place at a boy’s correction facility on the island of Bastoy in 1915, Marius Holst’s drama is an engaging and brutal account of an individual’s determination to achieve his goals over impossible odds. With similarities to movies as diverse as If, Papillion, Scum and Lord of the Flies, Holst’s movie has finally been released in the United Kingdom with little or no publicity behind it.

Opening with a new inmate called Erling (a charismatic, Benjamin Helstad) arriving to the island, the facility’s principle (Stellan Skarsgard) assigns the dormitory’s leader, Olav (Trond Nilssen) to explain the rules and keep him on the straight and narrow. With his nearby release date at stake, Olav is keen to keep his nose clean. Erling has other ideas and begins plotting a means of escape from the facility. After several failed escape attempts and numerous helpings of mental and physical punishment, his attention is drawn to the sexual abuse being inflicted on a simpleton youth by a paedophile supervisor (Kristoffer Joner). Having alerted the principle of the incidents of abuse, the boy’s misery is reinforced when no action is taken to deal with the issue. When he takes his own life, Erling, Olav and the rest of the boys finally take a stand against their elders. However their actions only lead to further destruction and misery.

King of Devil’s Island is unlikely to win any awards for originality but does succeed in being a thrilling, gritty and visually stunning drama with moving performances from the young and old cast. Benjamin Helstad has genuine star presence as the misunderstood and troubled, Erling. Trond Nilssen is likeable and impressive as the leader of the group. Conflicted by his obligation to do the right thing while dreaming of escaping the fascist rule of his captors, the scene where his temper finally snaps, is electric. Finally Stellan Skarsgard is his usually dependable self as the religious but corrupt rector. He chooses to turn a blind eye to the horrific treatment of the young men in his care while maintaining the sizeable wage and status that his position bestows upon him.

The movie’s greatest moment comes in the tense final scene. Rather than go for the predictable bloody finale, Holst chooses to end things in a heart-breaking but satisfying sequence that is exquisitely shot. Much credit has to be given to the performances of the two young leads that only increase the power of the scene.

It is unlikely that you will come away from King of Devil’s Island thinking that you have witnessed a classic but hopefully you will feel as I did, that you experienced a finely crafted and captivating historical drama.

Rating: ★★★★★★★½☆☆

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About DAVID GILLESPIE 169 Articles
Fighting for clean bathrooms and restrooms since 1974.

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