Starring: Nicolas Cage, Sarah Wayne Callies, Jack Fulton, Veronica Ferres, Lauren Beatty, Kalie Hunter, Lyriq Bent
Director: Uli Edel
Writer: Tim Lebbon (based on his novella), Dan Kay (screenplay)
Running time: 94 minutes
Rated: None (contains mild scares)
Reviewed by Michael Juvinall – Horror Society
Pay the Ghost is in THEATERS, VOD, AND iTUNES: September 25, 2015 from RLJ Entertainment
The main staple of the horror genre these days are the in-your-face horror films. The gore, violence, axes, chainsaws, slashers, monsters and the like are why this is our favorite genre, that’s why we’re here in the first place and that’s okay, those are the types of films I love the best – but there’s something to be said for the more subtle horror films as well. These are the ones that are not overtly bombastic in nature. More often than not, they’re slower paced, there’s less gore and most importantly these are what I like to call the thinking man’s horror film. The upcoming supernatural thriller Pay the Ghost falls into the latter category. The film is based on the novella of the same name by author Tim Lebbon (NY Times bestselling author of 30 Days of Night) and is directed by Uli Edel (Body of Evidence, The Little Vampire).
The film takes place in New York city on Halloween night as college professor Mike Lawford, played beautifully by Nicolas Cage, promises his eight-year-old son Charlie (Jack Fulton) he’d come home early from work to carve a pumpkin and go trick or treating. Mike becomes held up at work and doesn’t make it home until Charlie and his mom Kristin (Sarah Wayne Callies) are coming home for the night. Since Mike missed the night with Charlie, he begs his mom to let his dad take him to the Halloween carnival around the corner for a half hour. Mike and Charlie take off and have a great time at the carnival. Charlie notices some strange big birds flying around in the sky which turns out to be vultures circling. These birds portend that something ominous is going to happen. As Mike and Charlie are buying ice cream, Charlie asks his
dad if they can “pay the ghost”. Then as Mike pays for the ice cream he turns to give a cone to Charlie and notices he’s gone – vanished into thin air, abducted.
A year later Charlie has not been found, Mike is separated from Kristin and their lives are in ruin. Mike is about to lose his job but has not given up on locating Charlie. He pesters the cops every day, puts up flyers and researches the internet for clues. Mike has uncovered a sinister truth that every Halloween more children go missing than any other day of the year. As it comes upon the one-year anniversary of Charlie’s abduction Mike is haunted by eerie images and terrifying messages he can’t explain. Mike and his estranged wife will stop at nothing to unravel the mystery and find their son. In doing so, he unearths a supernatural legend that refuses to remain buried in the past.
As of late, everyone is aboard the hate on Nicolas Cage bandwagon, saying he’s turned into a B-movie star. I say leave the man alone, I have to give him a lot of credit for his performance in Pay the Ghost. He might not always make the best film choices but hey, you’d do the same thing if you needed to pay the ghost- ahem, I mean bills. I absolutely love his acting in this one. It’s every parent’s worst nightmare to have your child go missing or abducted and I think he played the part with the right sentiment and pathos that any Father would go through in that situation. As for the rest of the cast, Sarah Wayne Callies as Cage’s estranged wife seemed to be ho hum in her role. Some of her actions didn’t make sense especially for a mom with a chance to get her son back and that’s all I’ll say to not ruin the plot. Young Jack Fulton as Charlie turns in a tremendous performance in a haunting role.
The film is full of creepy, but subtle situations that really add to the inherently sinister vibe the film goes for and achieves. Some might find the pace a bit slow especially during the mid-point section but everything builds towards the payoff at the finale. The film is set in New York city but filmed in Canada except for some New York exteriors. What I really enjoyed about Pay the Ghost is the story slowly builds from the beginning with a child’s abduction and the terror that parents go through in that situation to slowly unraveling more of a supernatural subtext as it goes along and then finally turns into a full-on supernatural horror story full of suspense and dark atmosphere. Pay the Ghost is a nifty, smart supernatural yearn worth seeking out.
4 out of 5 Pentagrams!
Watch the trailer here,