Do you remember, way back in the 1990’s, when Nicolas Cage was hailed as one of the greatest living actors? Seems unlikely right now, I know, because if one were to measure his greatness by his last 30 or so films, I could only assume that his talents were grossly overestimated.
Make no mistake, Cage’s performances in such classics as his award winning Leaving Las Vegas, Raising Arizona, Face-Off and Moonstruck, were indisputably fantastic, BUT by the simple law of averages, Nicolas Cage has struck out as an actor way more often than he’s hit a home run.
Pay the Ghost, a tepid tale of supernatural abduction by director Uli Edel, is unfortunately no exception to the Oscar winner’s recent history of mediocrity. Cage plays Mike Lawford, a professor and loving father whose son is taken by an eeeeeevvviiillll spirit one fateful Halloween night and who spends the next year searching for his lost child, while his estranged wife (Sarah Wayne Callies) lays the blame on Mike for not protecting their child. The subject matter is grim and should evoke the terror of every parent’s worst nightmare, but Pay the Ghost never delves deeply into that primal fear and opts instead for cheap scares, ultimately missing the mark spectacularly.
Reminiscent of other shitty flicks like Bless the Child and Darkness Falls, the movie is a messy mix of horror movie clichés, misplaced symbolism and performances so over the top, you’ll probably need to shower after watching to rid yourself of the cheesy coating they leave behind…and I’m really trying to be nice. Make no mistake, this isn’t the worst movie I’ve ever seen, not by a long shot, but it’s hollow, irritatingly predictable and quite frankly just plain dull.
Of course, even crappy ghost stories have their place, and Pay the Ghost is juuuuuuuust decent enough to work as one of those rainy day flicks that you watch when you’re snuggled on the couch and wanna see something brainless….oh come on, I’m not the only person who watches bad movies on purpose, am I?
It’s better than The Wicker Man remake…of course, pretty much everything is better than that piece of shit, but for all its many many flaws, Pay the Ghost is nowhere near the worst film you’ll see this year, so if there’s absolutely nothing else to watch (and that includes home movies of kittens playing), then go ahead and give this cheese-fest a try.