SXSW 2023 review: DEADLAND’ is a haunting portrait of power, politics, and unresolved trauma.


This nail-biting thriller from writer-director Lance Larson starts with a bang and ratchets up the tension by the minute. Two seemingly unrelated mysteries plague border control agent Angel Waters. When a man attempts to cross the raging rivers onto US soil, he is swept downstream. Upon transporting his body, the man resurrects and requests, “El Paso, por favor.” Plans go awry, and Angel, his two coworkers, and the man become haunted by their choices. Meanwhile, Angel’s long-lost father appears in his home. His pregnant wife plays mediator in a volatile situation.

McCaul Lombardi plays Agent Hitchcock with the epitome of toxic masculinity, while Julieth Restrepo‘s humanity as Salomé proves to be her undoing. Their journey is akin to watching a car crash. Luis Chávez is chilling. Manuel Ariza and Kendal Rae leave their hearts on the screen. Roberto Urbina plays Angel with a masculine aura but anxious hesitancy and unresolved abandonment issues. He is magnetic. As a whole, this cast nails it.

Jas Shelton‘s gorgeously shot landscapes are juxtaposed with cold immigration offices. Angel experiences visions that are nothing short of mesmerizing. DEADLAND‘s final ten minutes made me gasp. Superb writing from Lasron and Shelton and fantastic performances are guaranteed to captivate SXSW 2023 audiences with questions of morality, guilt, and the things that haunt us.

Film Screenings

Mar 13, 2023
Mar 14, 2023



Lance Larson

Executive Producer:

Fred Baker, Charles Larson, John Shoemaker


Elizabeth Avellan, Bob Bastarache, Jas Shelton, Lance Larson, Tara Pirnia, Chris Wilks, Marsha Ann Larson, Norah Veloz


Lance Larson, Jas Shelton


Jas Shelton


Lance Larson

Production Designer:

O’Shay Brooks

Sound Designer:

Rene Coronado


Christopher Dean White

Principal Cast:

Roberto Urbina, McCaul Lombardi, Julieth Restrepo, Kendal Rae, Luis Chavez, Julio Cesar Cedillo, Manuel Uriza, Chris Mulkey, Chris White, Dave Maldonado

Additional Credits:

Line Producer: Wendy Parker, Stunts / SpFX Coordinator: Chris A. Wilks, Art Director: Jennifer Herbal, Costume Designer: Summer Moore, Gaffer: Jake Basnett, Key Grips: Joe Guzman / Kurt Stevens, Set Decorator: Ashley Stewart, Head Make Up: Reanon Casillo, Head Hair Stylist: Erika O’Bar, Casting Director: Beth Lipari

Review: ‘PORTALS’ is basically a genre-bending mindf*ck.

On August 5th 2020, an undisclosed research facility successfully creates the world’s first active black hole…Shortly after a cosmic disruption occurs triggering a series of world-wide blackouts; after which millions of mysterious, reality-altering, Portal-like anomalies appear everywhere and anywhere across the planet. While many flee from the sentient objects, the real terror sets in as people are drawn toward and into them.


Portals is a genre-bending anthology featuring three internationally connected stories told from four visionary filmmakers’ perspectives as the cosmic events unfold within the first few days. The action quickly kicks off with our wrap-around story following Adam and his family on their way to his mother-in-law’s house during the blackouts and reports of missing persons..during the road trip their SUV barrels directly into an Anomaly that suddenly appears in the middle of a desolate road. He later wakes up in a mysterious hospital suffering from optic nerve damage and is given an experimental eye transplant that links itself directly to the anomalies. With a determination to be reunited with his family; Adam soon discovers the hospital has cosmic secrets of its own.

Incredibly effective CG mixed with a mass hysteria mystery makes Portals beyond entertaining. The film’s pace makes you uneasy immediately. It’s quite impressive. The play on parental emotions and survival instinct keeps you on the edge. I NEEDED to know how this was all going to play out. The cast is magnificent. The multiple narrative styles fit perfectly into this genre-bending film. While the third selection between two sisters feels a bit too long, it shifts the genre dynamic. To what? I’m not quite sure, but it still has me invested because it is moving the plot forward. The physical portals themselves look like massive, high tech flat-screen televisions. The digital effects they utilize on the screens are cool and you learn very quickly somehow connected to the story. As the plot twists and turns, Portals has an almost dizzying effect. It would be a phenomenal miniseries. It’s a lot of information to explore in a single film. I try to go into a film without reading much about it first. Once I realized that this was actually an anthology, I was all the more impressed. The quality of writing flows through each separate selection as does production for continuity, obviously. But I was blown away by the risks these writers and directors took to feature different perspectives in the same way individuals having “the same experience” internationally. When all is said and done, Portals begs for a sequel. If not, then an entire series. There is a ton of story left to tell and I am here for it all.

In Theaters and On Demand October 25

Directed by Eduardo Sanchez (The Blair Witch Project, Exists)Gregg Hale (V/H/S 2), Timo Tjahjanto (The Night Comes For Us, Headshot), and Liam O’Donnell (Beyond Skyline)

Starring Neil Hopkins (“Lost”), Deanna Russo (Burning Love, Knight Rider), Gretchen Lodge (Lovely Molly), Natacha Gott (After the Dark), Phet Mahathongdy (Skyline), Ptolemy Slocum (“Westworld”), and Salvita Decorte (The Night Comes For Us)

Produced by Brad Miska and creator Chris White alongside BoulderLight Pictures’ J.D. Lifshitz and Raphael Margules, and Pigrat Productions’ Alyssa and Griffin Devine