Pay the Ghost (2015) – Review

Never one to take a much (much) needed break, Nicholas Cage finds himself searching for his supernaturally kidnapped son (Jack Fulton) in Pay the Ghost. Directed by Uli Edel, the film co-stars Sarah Wayne Callies as Cage’s wife and was released on September 25, 2015 via RLJ Entertainment. Although the initial release was VOD, Pay the Ghost is currently available to stream on Netflix.

Cage plays a professor who takes his young son to a late night Halloween parade in New York City. While there, his son asks him to “pay the ghost” and vanishes. Almost a year goes by when both parents start to get messages from beyond and race to find answers. Oh, and there’s a haunted scooter.

Once Pay the Ghost concluded, there were several questions that still lingered as I tried to make sense of what I just watched. For one, there were sinister looking birds throughout the film that Edel really wanted viewers to focus on. There is no apparent reason for this, which is bizarre considering how many of these scenes he included. Another oddity was a scene involving a psychic that had me questioning not only the characters but the supernatural force as well. It didn’t fit in and seemed to be thrown in for some action.

There are several scenes that were heavily influenced by 2011’s box office hit Insidious. This includes the main plot of a dad rescuing his son from a dimension eerily similar to “The Further” and a red pop-up face behind Cage’s character to create a jump. The similarities were so painfully obvious.

I don’t know about you, dear reader, but when I sit to watch a Nicholas Cage film that involves haunted scooters and ghost dimensions, I expect at least some of his exaggerated mannerisms or overacting to shine through. However, none was to be found in Pay the Ghost. I’m not saying he absolutely has to play it up, but Cage’s low-key performance was so bland that I found myself looking for scooters in the background. There were several, by the way. However, it would be unfair to single out Cage alone since all of the acting lacked any genuine passion or flair.


Although Pay the Ghost had a lot that was lacking, I do believe it will find an audience for those who want a simple Halloween ghost story. There are a few jump scares scattered throughout. They’re cheaply done, but there nonetheless.

Final Thoughts

I was looking forward to seeing Pay the Ghost, but it obviously let me down in a big way. There just wasn’t much with the plot or acting that went above mediocre. I certainly didn’t expect an amazing horror film, but I definitely expected more than I got. Now that Pay the Ghost is available on Netflix, check it out and see what you think.


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