‘Between Worlds’ (2018) Movie Review: A Love Triangle of Despair

Although known for ’90s and early 2000 action classics such as Con Air, Face/Off and Gone in Sixty Seconds, Nicolas Cage has also explored other genres with films such as Leaving Las Vegas and The Family Man. Starring in thrillers like 8MM and Bringing Out the Dead, this action legend isn’t unfamiliar with darker material that borderlines horror. With the recent release of the LSD-induced, cocaine-fueled path of vengeance known as Mandy quickly followed by the paranormal drama Between Worlds, Cage seems to be on an arthouse indie streak of weirdom… which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.


Joe meets a mother who can contact spirits when suffocating. Her daughter is dying when Joe helps the mother spiritually contact the daughter and save her. Unfortunately, the spirit in the daughter’s body is now that of Joe’s dead wife.

Just as Cage carried much of Mandy, portraying a personal mission of madness, he does the heavy lifting as as a struggling truck driver named Joe in Between Worlds, depicting a different yet somehow similar type of torment. Written and directed by Maria Pulera (Falsely Accused), this film centers around Joe as he struggles with his past, barely making ends meet while self-medicating with booze. Having a chance run-in with a gifted woman named Julie (Franka Potente: Run Lola Run, The Bourne Identity), Joe’s world takes an unexpected turn.

Hoping to guide the soul of her comatose daughter, Billie (Penelope Mitchell: Apartment 212), back to the living, Julie leaves her own body one too many times with the help of Joe. After a seemingly successful act of what appears to be a miracle, Joe, the well-meaning southern gentleman, stays with Julie after his big rig has been impounded for services unrendered. What ensues is dramatic lust forming a connection between Joe and Julie before an unexpected arrival unveils herself in the form of Julie’s daughter. This throws a wrench in the two lovers’ developing relationship, digging up problems from beyond the grave.

Actor Eric Scarabin and Nicolas Cage on set of ‘Between Worlds’

An interesting story can only take you so far. A slow moving plot and shaky focus can kill a film merely minutes into viewing. Am I right? Well, sort of. To viewers hoping for a straight-up horror feature, Between Worlds will likely come off as boring with an anticlimactic payoff. However, this type of film is better left without expectations.

Nicolas Cage as Joe and Franka Potente as Julie

Personally, I was drawn to the void Joe and Julie filled with each other’s company as kindred spirit truck drivers. Of course, it’s possible that this aspect would have fallen short had it not been backed by the noteworthy performances of Cage and Potente. Though it may seem a bit slow, how else can you develop a fling into romance in a matter of days and make it believable without using details? Withholding the measures of a developing relationship, the accented awkwardness and conflicting temptation would have felt much more forced.

The other talent that truly helped this story along is Penelope Mitchell. This up-and-comer stretches her horror acting skills in Between Worlds, making herself believable as a conduit for a spirit with unfinished business. However, things do get much weirder in a kinky scenario as Joe reads from an erotic novel – titled Memories by Nicolas Cage, natch – while doing the dirty with Billie. This real life reference has to have some meta meaning, right? Personally, I thought it was something placed with purpose. It turns out that I’m one of many film reviewers utterly confused by this with no answers to provide.

Penelope Mitchell as Billie

Regardless of the lack of horror flare and a very odd scene of debauchery, there is an alluring element of romantic drama in Between Worlds, complicated with paranormal intervention that makes this feature worth seeing. As Joe’s past is revealed, the conclusion unrolls like a drag racer pressing on the gas pedal. For some reason, I always view Cage as a gear-head with a heart of gold and a need for speed. That makes this ending that much more appealing with a fitting classic music tune. After a final heartbreaking revelation is made, Joe reacts in the most Nicolas Cage-esque response possible, with gasoline and fire enabling him to make peace with a tormented past.

About Brandon

Check Also

‘Trauma Therapy: Psychosis’ Asks “What If Self-Help Gurus Are Really Sadists?”

Note: This piece was written during the 2023 WGA and SGA-AFTRA strikes. Without the labor …