Synopsis: A professor frantically searches for his son who was abducted during a Halloween parade.
Release Date: September 25, 2015 MPAA Rating: PG-13
Genre(s): Horror, Thriller
Nicolas Cage is this generation’s Michael Caine; he seemingly never stops working. Because of this, he’s made just about every type of movie imaginable. He’s even dabbled in horror with the awful Season of the Witch and the even worse remake of The Wicker Man. His newest movie is another horror yarn, the Halloween thriller Pay the Ghost.
Pay the Ghost stars Cage as Michael Lawford, a literature teacher who lives an idyllic life with his wife, Kristen (Sarah Wayne Callies from “The Walking Dead”), and son, Charlie (Jack Fulton from “Hemlock Grove”). One Halloween, while at a carnival, Charlie wanders off and disappears. The disappearance takes its toll on Mike and Kristen’s marriage, but neither gives up on their hopes of finding their son. As Halloween approaches again, Mike starts seeing visions of Charlie around the city. While researching missing kids, he discovers that other parents who have never found their children have reported seeing images of their kids around town as well. Mike goes on a journey that leads him and the other parents into a rabbit hole of witchcraft and the occult as they desperately search for their missing children.
Based on a novella by horror/fantasy author Tim Lebbon, Pay the Ghost was written by Dan Kay (Timber Falls) and directed by Uli Edel (Body of Evidence). It starts out promisingly enough as a puzzling mystery, then takes a right turn and becomes a supernatural occult rescue film. By the time it gets to the climax, it’s in full Poltergeist mode, and it makes no apologies for it. Nor should it.
Now, despite the buildup (and the title), Pay the Ghost is not a typical horror film. It’s darker, nodding more towards psychological thrillers like Se7en and The Silence of the Lambs than to the regular old bump-in-the-night, killer-in-a-mask movies. The dreary world that Uli Edel creates coupled with some heart-wrenching performances by Cage, Callies, and Fulton help Pay the Ghost transcend the normal horror movie tag. Unfortunately, the ghosts-and-witchcraft elements of the third act try to pull the film back into Haunted House territory, creating a bit of a lack of focus, but Pay the Ghost is still fun, in a Nic Cage fighting the occult kind of way.
Pay the Ghost is not going to be a big feather in the cap of Nicolas Cage, but it shouldn’t end up being left off of his resume completely, either. It’s better than Trespass or Ghost Rider, but it’s not as good as Joe or Kick-Ass. And it doesn’t even belong in the same sentence as Leaving Las Vegas or Adaptation., but that says more about the varied types of movies that Cage has made than it does about his performances in them. So, anyway. If you’ve been searching for a new and different type of horror movie, look no further than Pay the Ghost. It’ll fit the bill nicely.
There are some pretty good scares in Pay the Ghost. The entire film has an air of creepiness and foreboding about it, not just dread and darkness, but real disturbance and uneasiness. This inability for the audience to get comfortable provides some good jump scares – and not just cheap meowing cat ones, either, real surprises that are constructed with both slick camera work and tight editing. Perhaps the scariest element out of everything that Pay the Ghost has to offer is the concept itself; the thought of losing a child, especially when there’s absolutely no trace and, therefore, no closure, is absolutely horrifying, so even without all of the dark shadows and startling imagery, Pay the Ghost is scary.
Cast and Crew
- Director(s): Uli Edel
- Producer(s): Nicolas ChartierCraig J. FloresIan LevyPatrick Newall
- Screenwriter(s): Dan Kay
- Story: Tim Lebbon
- Cast: Nicolas Cage (Mike Lawford)Sarah Wayne Callies (Kristen)Veronica Ferres (Hannah) Lauren Beatty (Annie Sawquin)Kalie Hunter (Ghost Annie)Jack Fulton (Charlie)Susannah Hoffman (Jane)Janet Lo (Jai Wen)Jamillah Ross (Rhonda)Rosalba Martinni (Rosa)Leah Jung (Mia)Matteo Ghazni (Pablo)
- Cinematographer: Sharone Meir
- Production Designer(s):
- Costume Designer: Christopher Hargadon
- Casting Director(s): John BuchanJason Knight
- Music Score: Joseph LoDuca
- Music Performed By:
- Country Of Origin: USACanada