Saturday, 21 November 2015

Pay the Ghost

Out now on DVD and Blu-ray is Nicolas Cage’s latest work of art, Pay the Ghost. A supernatural horror in which Cage’s son is taken on Halloween. The question is which type of Cage film it is. One of the good ones, or one of the weaker ones of recent years? (*cough* Left Behind *cough*) Read on to find out if this horror film is scary or just scarily bad.


The plot is simple. Nicolas Cage plays Mike Lawford, a father who doesn’t spend enough time with his son and wife. He’s married to his job! Not a super original set up. But Cage puts his back into it, it never feels like he’s coasting his way through this one like he’s been known to do recently. It makes all the difference in the world to see the main actor actually trying to put in a decent performance. There’s plenty of his trademark shouting in Pay the Ghost too. For the majority of the film it really feels like he’s back to his old, crazy self. It very nearly washes the taste of Trespass and Left Behind away. Nearly.


The other actors do a decent job. Mike’s wife is played by Sarah Wayne Callies of The Walking Dead fame. She’s fine, nothing too bad. She plays the typical hysterical mother and it’s a real shame to see her absent from the climax of the movie. Up until that point the movie was doing a good job of making it about a mother and father’s hunt for their son, but the end is all about Cage. I guess in a film starring Nicolas Cage however, all other actors are part of the scenery.

The movie really gets going once Cage’s son is taken. He begins to hear things and finds clues that lead him on a hunt for his son. It is pretty interesting, you don’t know who or what has taken his son and you want to find out. But under any scrutiny it doesn’t really make any sense, and they reveal the monster too much, taking away a lot of the effective scares it could have had.

Speaking of the scares, how good are they? It is supposed to be a horror film after all so you’d expect to be suitably spooked right? Well I can safely say you will jump, probably a few times. But you can’t help but feel that it’s not enough. The majority of the scares involve one character looking at something and having a scary CGI face pop up. It’s like a 95 minute version of that scary maze game people used to trick their friends with. Sure it’ll scare you but it’s very lazy. One scene see’s the filmmakers trying to scare us with a scooter, which is as silly as it sounds. Another ‘scare’ sees them copying the famous scene from Insidious where the monster appears briefly behind a character. But here it’s crappy and CGI. And with Nicolas Cage instead of Patrick Wilson.

This film feels like a rubbish Insidious in a few ways. The ending see’s Cage going into a scary supernatural world to save his son, only to be chased by the world’s monster. Very reminiscent of Insidious, only lacking any kind of tension. Recently there have been so many great horror movies, Sinister and The Conjuring, or The Babadook and It Follows. It feels like we’re entering a new age of really awesome horror movies, sadly Pay the Ghost is not one of them.

The people behind the film were trying, or at least it seems like they were. It’s not directed badly and it doesn’t look as cheap as Nic Cage’s recent work. The CGI is alright and at only an hour and a half long it doesn’t get chance to be boring. The idea of Nicolas Cage in a proper scary horror movie was intriguing and he is by far the best thing in this film. It’s just a bit drab, and doesn’t offer anything new, especially for fans of horror.


If you want a supernatural film starring Nicolas Cage, you’d be better off with Drive Angry or even Season of the Witch, at least that one has Ron Pearlman. Skip Pay The Ghost, for die-hard Cage-aholics only.

Pay the Ghost gets mediocre 2/5.

★★★☆☆

Jack Bumby


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