21st Nov2015

‘Pay the Ghost’ Review

by Phil Wheat

Stars: Nicolas Cage, Sarah Wayne Callies, Jack Fulton, Lyriq Bent, Lauren Beatty, Stephen McHattie, Veronica Ferres | Written by Dan Kay | Directed by Uli Edel

pay-the-ghost-dvd

You can’t say Nicolas Cage rests on his laurels. After previously going all religious with Left Behind, the rapture-based movie from last year, he heads to the dark side of life for the supernatural thriller Pay the Ghost. Although caution is needed… Previously Cage took on the horror genre with a remake of The Wicker Man and we all now how that turned out!

Almost a year after his young son disappeared by his side on Halloween night in New York City, Mike (Cage) is alone and haunted by terrifying visions of his son. Desperate but determined not to let go he researches all the cases of missing children in the city and comes to a horrifying conclusion. After bombarding the detective in charge of the case with his crazy-sounding theories he finally reunites with his estranged wife (Callies) and explains to her what he now believes. That every Halloween a vengeful ghost surfaces to abduct three children and if they don’t recover their son within a short window of time on All Hallows Eve, he will be lost to the spirit world forever.

Good god… Nicolas Cage is in full bat-shit crazy mode here – just watch his reaction to his kid going missing – yet somehow playing the entire film off in THE most serious fashion, only adding to the insanity. Thankfully this film is VISUALLY just as mental as his performance, filled with ridiculous imagery… Including huge CG vultures, black and white ghost children (how many times have we seen that before? Hello! The Ring wants its cliche back) and Stephen McHattie as a dirty, blind, dreadlocked leader of a group of homeless people; and the type of teenage-girl-scaring  jumps usually reserved for the crappy Paranormal Activity movies – in particular there’s a scene with a “haunted” razor scooter that has to be seen to be believed or, more likely, laughed at. And  we’re expected to believe said scene convinces Cage’s on-screen wife – played by the ever-underrated Sarah Wayne Callies – that Cage ghost theory is right? Come on!

To cut to the chase, Pay the Ghost is little more than a generic by-the-numbers thriller that thoroughly deserved to go straight to DVD. The worst part? The film streches out its story to breaking point, making 90 minutes seem like three hours thanks to the ridiculous amounts of non-action. After all, how thrilling can a film be if the cast spend three quarters of their time just talking? A waste of all the talents involved. Even Nicolas Cage.

Pay the Ghost is out now on Blu-ray and DVD from Arrow Films.

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