King of Devil's Island

  • Film
  • Action and adventure
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The Devil’s Island of the title isn’t the French Guyanan penal colony famous from ‘Papillon’ but its frozen Norwegian counterpart Bastøy, a remote minimum-security prison for teenage offenders. It’s 1915, and into this unforgiving environment comes Erling (Benjamin Helstad), a rebellious boy bent on escape. Erling is quickly singled out as a troublemaker by warden Håkon (Stellan Skarsgaard), but his refusal to knuckle under makes him a hero to his fellow inmates. Stark, austere and just a touch too reliant on prison movie clichés, ‘King of Devil’s Island’ is no one’s idea of a fun night at the pictures. But it is a well-constructed and gripping story, particularly as the violent climax approaches. A young cast acquits itself well – Helstad is most convincing as the bruiser with a poet’s soul, and Skarsgaard is also impressive as the conflicted, morally compromised governor. But the film is rather one-note in its bleakness, and doesn’t have a vast amount to say beyond ‘reform school sucks’.

Release details

Rated: 12A
Release date: Friday June 29 2012
Duration: 116 mins

Cast and crew

Director: Marius Holst
Screenwriter: Lars Saabye Christensen, Mette M Bølstad, Dennis Magnusson, Eric Schmid
Cast: Trond Høvik
Kristoffer Joner
Benjamin Helstad
Stellan Skarsgard
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