Speeding full force towards Halloween, this is day 26 of my #31DaysOfHorror, and it’s a rare treat this time. A Nicolas Cage horror vehicle. Well, let’s not waste any more time on this, and talk Pay The Ghost.
A professor frantically searches for his son who was abducted during a Halloween parade.
I’ll start by answering the question I’m sure you all have: is this another insane Nicolas Cage performance? Unfortunately, no it’s not. This is kind of the worst kind of Nicolas Cage movie, in that it is really middling. He has one or two Cage-outs, but honestly the movie doesn’t let him go nearly as crazy as you’d want him to. That’s not even to say that the movie is bad either, it’s not great, but it’s far from as bad as some of his other movies, so you have a movie that is right down the middle, and a Nic Cage performance that is right down the middle, and you’re left with an ultimately bland movie, which really is kind of heart breaking.
This one was directed by Uli Edel, who directed that rotten Houdini mini series, and was written by Dan Kay, who adapted a novella by Tim Lebbon. I have to imagine the novella is pretty good, though I have absolutely no idea. In terms of it’s look, and the basic story, the movie feels like it should have come out a few years ago, around the same time as movies like The Ring. It wouldn’t have been great then either, but it feels strangely dated somehow. Cage is fine in it, and it’s a movie more for the hard core Nic Cage fan than anyone else, because it’s not going to be making the rounds as a “Best Moments From…” video on YouTube any time soon, which is really too bad. There was a lot tha could have been done with his brand of crazy, but it makes me wonder if Edel was holding him back and trying to create a more subdued, real performance.
Ghost also stars Sarah Wayne Callies (The Walking Dead) and she’s about as likable in this as in that, so that will pretty much depend on how much you like her in that show, she was never my favourite. As well, you have Lyriq Bent (Saw II), and Jack Fulton (Life) as Cage’s son. Everyone is fine in the movie, but their characters are pretty shallow over all. The death of one of Cage’s friends comes out of nowhere and is immediately forgotten, and honestly it didn’t really register for me either, because I didn’t really have much investment in her.
Where I was pleasantly surprised, was in the scarier parts of the film. There are a couple of scenes that are effectively creepy, and in the end will be what makes the movie worth sitting down and giving the 94 minutes of your life to. The scenes with spooky children are pretty great, and a particular scene in a homeless community that shows us a flash of a ghost is pretty good as well. It’s not quite as constantly scary as movies like Insidious try to be, and does offer some engaging scenes of Cage trying to figure out what has happened to his son. It does seem like there was more to the mythology of the movie, but the movie was trying to cram it all into a relatively short movie, and as a result you will feel like pieces are missing.
The movie was made here in Canada, but I would hesitate to call it a Canadian movie. It’s set in New York (though, I could have sworn it was shot in Vancouver…), and features an all around American cast, so I won’t be listing it in the Canadian section.
Over all, the movie is definitely pretty weak. One or two interesting or creepy scenes, and a total lack of a good Cage freak-out make it hard for me to recommend this one. Watch it if you want, but don’t expect much.