Nicolas Cage turns his hand to the supernatural thriller with Pay The Ghost. This Uli Edel directed effort is a solid enough fright pic with some good atmosphere, but it loses steam towards the last act. Cage plays Mike Lawford, a professor whose son goes missing during a Halloween parade. A year later he’s still searching for the boy when he realises that the disappearance may be paranormal in nature. Cue jump-scares and a lot of dark and misty scenes as a frantic Cage searches New York City (or New Orleans) for his son.
To paraphrase Sunset Boulevard – ‘Nicolas Cage is big. It’s the pictures that got small’. Recent years have seen a downturn in the quality of the films that the actor has been making. The face of mid-range moviemaking has changed and this means the types of action-thrillers the actor made are only going straight-to-dvd. However, unlike fellow fallen A-lister Bruce Willis, it never feels like Cage is turning in a half-baked performance. He’s always engaged, even when the material shouldn’t be worthy of his talents and that’s the sign of a good movie star and a great actor. I hope that movies can change so that actors like Cage can once again star on movies that don’t have to cost $100 million to produce.
The problem with many supernatural films is that it’s difficult to tie up the story without letting things get far-fetched and Pay The Ghost suffers from that problem. The last act ditches whatever tension that was built-up through the rest of the film for a denouement that belongs in an episode of Scooby Doo. It’s a shame because Edel’s film has enough good elements to make it worth watching.
Pay The Ghost may not be prime Nicolas Cage – but it’s far from his worst (that dubious honour lies with Left Behind) and it’s worth catching for fans of Cage and those who like their horror movies light on scares.
Pay The Ghost comes with a solid 20 minute making-of that features participation with all involved.