Let another film in the strange canon of Nicolas Cage films released direct to dvd/blu-ray/streaming or whatever format you watch it on, I think many of these will become stables of Netflix for years to come. Nicolas Cage may be known as this over the top performer at this point but he is seriously one of the finest actors of his generation his range. Just look at his range of performances in films such as Red Rock West, Leaving Las Vegas (which he won the oscar for), Wild at Heart, Adaptation to more recent fare like Joe is rarely beaten. However Cage has a lot of debts due to his over spending so he has slum it so to speak with direct to video fodder but occasionally they are not as bad as you may expect.
Pay The Ghost is shockingly directed by Uli Edel who has made his name with excellent work such as Christiana F., Last Exit to Brooklyn and more recently he was nominated for the oscar for best foreign language film for The Baader Meinhof Complex. Edel however does a lot of sub par TV work despite occasionally do some of note such directing episodes of Twin Peaks, his recently Houdini mini-series was however unwatchable. The producers and writer wanted a director of some note to direct their schlocky script and they certainly got one.
So Nick Cage plays an english literature lecturer who specialises in what else but horror literature such as Edgar Allan Poe and H.P. Lovecraft. It’s Halloween and he misses his wife and son go trick or treating due to work so he takes his son out to the Halloween carnival but after the kid says “pay the ghost” while he is buying his son ice-cream he mysteriously disappears. A year passes and still no sign of the kid. Naturally with these films they are mysterious supernatural goings on.
The film did have a extremely limited theatrical one which was probably contractual but in the UK and probably 99% of the world it’s being released direct to dvd. It’s reviews have been kind it currently as a 10% on Rotten Tomatoes which to be honest is never the best tastemaker. The film is overall a rather service man like supernatural thriller made to exploit the Halloween buck, it comes out 5 days before that Pagan festival. Cage does not go to the outer limits in performance which he certainly can and often does in these type of films but takes a rather restrained approach to character, there is no “the bees!” moment here.
It’s never scary but has some eerie moments and the last act where Cage crosses the river styx so to speak has a mystical quality that the rest of the film doesn’t. It plays on the strengths of being every parent’s worst nightmare of losing a child mysteriously . It runs at a get in and get out just as fast pace of 90 minutes which is the filmmakers must be aiming at becoming a late night TV film in years to pad out the programming. Edel is a much better director than the material deserves but as these direct to dvd Cage films it’s better than most of them but lacks the attempted sophisticated filmmaking of Dying for the Light which was sadly butchered by the producers. It’s certainly better than last year’s Left Behind which is only worth watching for comedy value.
Horror, Thriller | USA, 2015 | 15| Arrow Films | 26th October 2015 (UK) | Dir.Uli Edel | Nicolas Cage, Sarah Wayne Callies, Veronica Ferres,Lyriq Bent, Jack Fulton |Buy:Pay The Ghost [Blu-Ray]