Not all of Nicolas Cage’s non-stop list of movies are that bad, but they’re not all that good, either. Some of them, like Pay the Ghost, feel as though they could be better but aren’t that bad when all is said and done. The movie takes its cue from many others when incorporating a legend that helps to give the premise a bit of backstory that feeds into the fears of many parents when it comes to their children. The idea is that children tend to go missing in New York on Halloween and are never seen again, but many people have no idea why. When Mike Lawford loses his son Charlie on Halloween, he becomes obsessed with finding him as time passes, leading to a separation from his wife and a serious decline when it comes to his life. When he starts to experience visions of his son reaching out to him, which are shared by his wife eventually, Mike begins to suspect that something is going on that’s beyond his capability to understand. When the supernatural events continue, however, he finds another way to discover where his son went. What he finds is, well, intriguing but could have been presented better.
The title of the movie is quite literal as it’s discovered.
For a good chunk of the movie, the exposition is kind of clunky and doesn’t move forward as one might like to see. The jump scares aren’t too bad, but they’re not exactly huge contributions to the movie. As far as storylines go, this one isn’t bad, but somehow it just gets a little muddled as everything starts to come together. In a very convincing way, the overall story is something that one can’t help but be interested in since the whole allure of witchcraft, no matter if it’s misrepresented in the movies quite often, is still very interesting. But learning that the spirit who is taking children in New York is discovered to be the spirit of a woman who was accused of being a witch in the early days of New York when it was still a colony. After she was burned alive, along with her children, she cursed the colony before she, too, was burned alive.
Revenge is a powerful motivator, especially for vengeful spirits.
A spirit coming back from the dead isn’t a huge deal, and neither is the idea of the spirit being vengeful for one reason or another. The fact that this witch crosses from the spirit realm to the world of the living every Halloween is creepy, and it definitely works. Even taking the number of children that she lost when she was still alive is a nice touch, but it does feel that something else would have been wise to add to this since it feels a little empty for some reason, as though it didn’t quite hit with the type of force that it should have been able to given that it is the type of story that could pack a heavy punch. It could be said, however, that a lot of Cage’s movies have been low-key in the past several years, for one reason or another.
It’s not one of Cage’s best movies.
It doesn’t feel like it was meant to be either, but the effort is still there to make it work until the end since Mike does manage to find the area where he can cross over to the other side to rescue Charlie and two other children that were abducted. For the others, there’s no hope since, after a year spent in the spirit realm, they’re no longer able to return. But when the witch comes calling, it almost becomes impossible for Mike and the kids to escape as the witch nearly kills Mike before she’s attacked by the spirits of the children that she abducted and supposedly killed. As Mike and the kids make their way back to the realm of the living, the gateway closes, leaving the audience to feel that everything is now safe. During a mid-credit scene, though, it’s revealed that a friend of Mike and his wife who was killed by the witch awakens, possessed by the dark spirit.
Now and then, Cage comes up with a good movie, but this one kind of missed the mark.
This movie does feel like it could have been thoroughly enjoyable, but it was missing a few components that might have helped it to bridge the gap between mediocre and highly entertaining. It could be that the budget wasn’t great enough, or it could be that the writers weren’t being paid enough. Whatever it was, there was a definite lack of excitement to this movie that kept it from being something great and unique.
it was worth watching at least once, just to make certain.
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