The Horror Honeys: 'Pay the Ghost' ~ Evil Walks Among Us...

'Pay the Ghost' ~ Evil Walks Among Us...

A Revenge Honey New Release Review from Linnie

Pay the Ghost (2015)

Let's get the obligatory "Nic Cage Fangirl" warning out of the way. My love for the man is deep, and it's real, but it's not blind. I can admit when he makes a terrible movie (Outcast was an absolutely dumpster fire), and I will never recommend a movie that OTHERS won't like, just because of my "professional crazed fan" status. That being said, Uli Edel's Halloween-set supernatural thriller Pay the Ghost was entertaining as hell, and I could easily see myself watching it as part of my future Hexmas traditions.

But it may not make everyone as giddy as it made me...

The Story: Mike Lawford (Cage) is a horror-literature professor at a university (sploosh) who has just received tenure. To celebrate, he takes his young son Charlie (Jack Fulton) to a Halloween carnival despite his wife Kristen's (Sarah Wayne Callies) misgivings. While there, Charlie looks up at his dad and whispers, "Can we pay the ghost, daddy?" and then... he disappears. What follows is part supernatural mystery/part New York City history lesson, as Mike and Kristen try to figure out what happened to their son, and just who this "ghost" is who is demanding payment.

He's like Ethan Hawke in Sinister... But Nic Cage. Yes, please.
First, we shall address all of the obvious complaints that I am anticipating when it comes to this movie. To begin with, elements of Pay the Ghost are extremely similar to Scott Derrickson's Sinister. A supernatural entity, missing children, murder... The parallels are easy because they are accurate. That being said, there is enough to distinguish the two films that I think they can be enjoyed with creating venn diagrams on their individuality. Horror is often about repetition, and the loss of a child through circumstances well beyond your control is a mainstay of horror. There is plenty of room for everyone.

It's even worse when the kid is a-goddamn-dorable.
Additionally, Pay the Ghost utilizes what is essentially a 00s trope checklist: middle-aged medium lady, jump scares, ghost dimensions, children in peril, unnecessary CGI, bickering parents, creeping shadows, bag masks, creepy kids... Nicolas Cage. And while I have come to LOATHE jump scares, the ones utilized here are carefully planned and are spread far enough apart that they actually did the trick. I'm not saying I like them, but they actually caught me off guard. I also could have done without the CGI, but the practical effects, when used, were effective.

Secret cameo actor? Also a great practical effect.
For all of its flaws, I was able to overlook each of them because of the things that Pay the Ghost does right. It has a compelling and genuinely upsetting backstory for its supernatural villain. It took the time to get its details right by way of Celtic pagan rituals and iconography. And it was peppered with real bits of history related to the birth of New York City, which I am positively ravenous for. Paired with solid performances from the cast, including another tempered one from Cage, and there is far more to like about Pay the Ghost than there is to complain about.

Not that that will stop people. But I'm going on record as having enjoyed it thoroughly.

Revenge Honey Rating: 4 NYC history lessons out of 5

And as always, our rating on the Nicolas Cage Performance Spectrum: Another relatively calm Category 2

Pay the Ghost will be available on iTunes, VOD, and in select theaters on September 25!

Will you be checking out Pay the Ghost?
Tell me on Twitter: @linnieloowho