The Dead Lands is a Shudder Original series that uses Māori mythology and culture to bring audiences on a supernatural horror adventure. Focusing on Mehe (Darneen Christian), a chief’s daughter, and Waka (Te Kohe Tuhaka), a warrior who was casted out of the land of the dead for his dishonor, this supernatural series is filled to the brim with magic and the dead. In episode three, we saw Mehe and Waka meet a trio of witches with the power to pull the evil from the Boy in order to find the name of discovering the name of the person who broke the world. After rescuing one of the witches, by learning from them, Mehe has lost Waka’s trust. Now, in “The Exorcism of the Boy,” The Dead Lands goes full horror as Mehe and Waka bring the boy to the witches to exorcise him of the evil all in hopes
This episode also shows Waka moving through the world of the dead and pulling Mehe with him. We see more into his past, his dishonor, and ultimately he grows to start trusting himself and not his mother who is twisting his perspective. For our main characters, this episode is about confronting their pasts but also about their paths forward while also
That said, “The Exorcism of the Boy” is filled with amazing moments of physicality from the Boy as he’s strapped to a piece of wood while the witches work. But unlike the exorcisms based in Catholicism that’s so prevalent in horror, the witches get physical. The bend his body, pulling his legs backwards and upwards, folding him over himself while the screams. It’s a brutal ritual but one that they need to complete. The physical nature of the exorcism is what drives Mehe’s story this episode.
While Mehe undoubtably has a warrior’s heart, seeing the Boy in pain shows her empathy and makes it clear that that is what drives her. Over the course of the episode, she is confronted with her actions, specifically killing her father in episode one, which haunts her even though it was out of mercy. As she confronts the kindness in her, she learns how to spot the exploitation of it and embraces a role that puts her on the same footing as the witches.
Now, as much as I love The Dead Lands, the make-up is a little miss in some of the moments of the exorcism. That said, the Boy, played by Kawakawa Fox-Reo delivers a phenomenal job. Actors that portray possessed characters deserve a lot of credit. They have to play characters in danger and terrified and they also have to play them as evil intimidating foes. It’s a It’s hard to act possessed and make it believable, to make the body moments seem real, and he nails it.
Overall, “The Exorcism of the Boy” deepens the lore of the world and introduces old tropes told from the Māori perspective. If you’re not watching Shudder’s The Dead Lands and you’re a fan of horror, it’s time to start streaming.
New episodes of The Dead Lands premiere every Thursday exclusively on Shudder in the US.
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The Dead Lands, Episode 4 - The Exorcism of the Boy
- Rating - 9/109/10
“The Exorcism of the Boy” deepens the lore of the world and introduces old tropes told from the Māori perspective. If you’re not watching Shudder’s The Dead Lands and you’re a fan of horror, it’s time to start streaming.
Kate is co-founder, EIC, and CCO of BWT. She’s also a Certified Rotten Tomatoes Critic, host, and creator of our flagship podcast, But Why Tho? and Did You Have To?. She also manages all PR relationships for comics, manga, film, TV, and anime. She has an MA in Cultural Anthropology and Religious Studies focusing on how pop culture impacts society.