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Nicolas Cage is often accused of taking parts that don’t challenge his undeniable range, especially in recent years as the "paycheck parts" have piled up. His ‘10s output of films like “Rage,” “ Outcast ,” “Stolen,” “ The Frozen Ground ” and “ Left Behind ” make this argument of creative coasting harder to dismiss (and almost more painful considering Cage delivered one of his career-best turns in the middle of this garbage onslaught with “ Joe ”). Looking over Cage’s resume, I considered the following phrase carefully: “Pay the Ghost,” out in very limited release today, is a new low for Nicolas Cage. Just when you thought he couldn’t get any more apathetic about a role, he pops up in this lazy, boring retread of “ Insidious ” that even his most diehard fans should ignore.

Based on a novella by Tim Lebbon , “Pay the Ghost” stars Cage as Mike Lawford, an English teacher who drops references to Lovecraft and Johann Wolfgang von Goethe just so you get the impression that Dan Kay’s screenplay comes with great literary aspirations. (Spoiler: It does not.) Lawford is married to Kristen (Sarah Wayne Callies), and the two have a child named Charlie ( Jack Fulton ). Of course, Mike is a distant dad, not around enough as he tries to earn tenure at the university where he teaches. On Halloween, Lawford finally gets tenure, and comes home to celebrate with his family. He even convinces his wife to let him take Charlie to a late-night Halloween parade (do those things really happen in NYC in 2015?) Charlie, who has been having odd visions of late, asks dad if they “ can pay the ghost ,” and abruptly disappears.

A year later, Mike and Kristen have been torn apart by the disappearance of their son, and start to have supernatural visions, including hearing a child screaming and seeing Charlie on a bus. Is Charlie trying to communicate to them from the other side? With a laughably small amount of research, Mike notices that while children who go missing are often found, those who disappear on All Hallow’s Eve rarely come home again. Someone, or something, is abducting kids on October 31 st , and many of the guardians of the abductees tell the same story of the titular phrase being said just before they disappeared. Who is the ghost that must be paid? What must he or she be paid with? Does this have something to do with Cage’s notorious IRS problems?

It’s amazing how long “Pay the Ghost” drags itself through a feature-length running time with almost nothing to speak of in terms of plot. Charlie disappears, and dad looks for him. The set-up is a slog, as we know there’s no movie without dad making contact with his son again, and there’s absolutely no style or character to get us over the lack of narrative suspense. Cage doesn’t even give it his wide-eyed all; he’s more fun in “Left Behind.” Perhaps presuming that director Uli Edel would actually dramatically ground “Pay the Ghost” in something relatable, Cage actually plays it straight, which eliminates any B-movie fun that could even be had with this misstep. If you’re going to do a lackluster horror movie just for the money, at least try and have some fun with it.

Instead, “Pay the Ghost” does nothing that we haven’t seen done more entertainingly and incisively in other films. It literally has two characters at the 70-minute mark explain the entire narrative—where Charlie is, how to save him, why he was taken, etc.—in back-to-back conversations. It is the apex of lazy screenwriting. At one point, Lawford notes to his class that Washington Irving established the tone of his infamous piece " Sleepy Hollow " with just its name. So does “Pay the Ghost.” It’s to Pay the Bills.

Brian Tallerico

Brian Tallerico

Brian Tallerico is the Managing Editor of, and also covers television, film, Blu-ray, and video games. He is also a writer for Vulture, The Playlist, The New York Times, and GQ, and the President of the Chicago Film Critics Association.

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Pay the Ghost (2015)

Nicolas Cage as Mike

Sarah Wayne Callies as Kristen

Veronica Ferres as Hannah

Lyriq Bent as Jordan

Lauren Beatty as Annie

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Pay the Ghost

Pay the Ghost

  • A professor frantically searches for his son who was abducted during a Halloween carnival.
  • One year after Mike Lawford's young son disappeared during a Halloween carnival, he is haunted by ghostly images and terrifying messages he can't explain. Together with his estranged wife, he will stop at nothing to unravel the mystery and find their son-and, in doing so, he unearths the legend of the crying woman who refuses to remain buried in the past.
  • On Halloween, in New York, Mike Lawford has just been promoted to professor with the support of his friend Hannah. Mike meets his family and takes his son Charlie to see the Halloween parade while his wife Kristen goes home to prepare a design for her client. While buying a cone for Charlie, the boy asks whether they can pay the ghost and vanishes. Mike and Kristen seek out the boy and he presses NYPD Detective Jordan to find his son. One year later, Mike researches and finds that children that disappear on Halloween are never found by the police. Furthermore every year three children vanish. There is also a connection to the Celtic colonization of New York three hundred years ago. Will Mike save his beloved son? — Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
  • New York professor Mike Lawford celebrates winning tenure by taking his kid son Charlie, who waited in vain to cut the Halloween pumpkin and had to do trick or treat with mother Kristen, to the Halloween fair. In a moment of distraction to pay the ice cream, the boy goes missing. SEven years of posting missing pictures and goading the police investigation yield nothing, except a theory that someone must be behind the multiple number of kid disappearances at Halloween, while his marriage broke down as Kristen stupidly blames him. Checking up on strange things Charlie noticed, Mike stumbles upon the underground tunnels where the homeless fear the annual appearance of a supernatural prime suspect from Celtic mythology, and runs the misty gauntlet to recuperate his prince. — KGF Vissers

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Review: Nicolas Cage’s Supernatural Thriller ‘Pay The Ghost’

Gary garrison.

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The confounding career of Nicolas Cage has, at this point, surely been the focus of hundreds of graduate theses, attempting to explain away the pile of shockingly disastrous, straight-to-VOD films that he churns out every year, and reconcile with the fact that the man is still a superstar — despite the ubiquitous knowledge that he’s become a sort of scenery chewing ham. However, from time to time, the Oscar winner (a tag all of his movies still proudly tout) makes films like “ Joe ,” where he actually acts, in a movie with characters and complexities and depth. And, the truth is, with the right material Cage can still be interesting as a performer. Which makes just about every film of far lesser quality, all that more painful to watch.

Like, for instance, “ Pay The Ghost ,” a decidedly B-movie supernatural thriller that blatantly looks to capitalize on the coming Halloween season. Cage plays actor Nicolas Cage playing professor Mike Lawford who is characterized only by the fact that we feel we know Nic Cage: we are comfortable with him and not threatened by him, he is nice, and friendly, and a mostly good person. And that’s it. Though, to be honest, Cage does a decent enough job of trudging through the blunt and lifeless script by Dan Kay (based on the novel by Tim Lebbon ), without ever truly selling it. A perfect companion for the film itself.

“Pay The Ghost” takes its time getting to the proceedings. Mike, an English professor at an unnamed, but very gothic university (where his students clap for him at the end of his lessons), has a good life with his wife Kristen ( Sarah Wayne Callies ) and their young son Charlie ( Jack Fulton ). Sure, he runs late for things, caught up in his work, but he loves his family and they love him. But when Mike shows up late again and misses trick-or-treating on Halloween, he must make it up to Charlie by taking him to the carnival down the block. The two have a super fun time just looking at all the costumes, until Charlie literally disappears right out of Mike’s hand.

Flash forward a year and Mike and Kristen are separated. Mike, still obsessed with Charlie’s disappearance, posts flyers every week, and won’t stop hounding the detective assigned to the case. But nothing has come of his efforts. Until, that is, Halloween finally comes back around. Suddenly Mike begins seeing things — Charlie on a bus, awkward CG vultures, vague darknesses, titular graffiti — that lead him to believe his son is still out there and that some supernatural powers and ancient celtic mythology may be in the mix. As the fated day approaches, Mike and Kristen — reunited by their love for their son and narrative convenience — learn they might have one last chance to save Charlie.

But from its opening, “Pay The Ghost” is devoid of energy. The rote nuclear family we are given is far from interesting, and the heavy-handed dread leading up to Charlie’s disappearance (hyped to ridiculous levels by  Joseph LoCuca ’s derivative score, which tries to wrench tension from everything) robs the moment of anything resembling emotion; though the scene itself is neither inventive or convincing. And, for the most part, the rest of the film follows suit.

Under the direction of TV vet Uli Edel , “Pay The Ghost” comes out feeling like, well, a TV movie. Nothing makes much sense. The ghosts never get scary. The action is awkward and packed with painful CG. And the climax manages to somehow be the most inane and dull moment of all. The cast does some passable work, but with the script they’ve been stuck with there isn’t much room to breathe, let alone create a character with any trace of depth.

Worse still is the late grasp at some sort of celtic mythology, that seems, not to have been a driving force in the narrative from the get go, but rather a lazy attempt to tie off the empty narrative strands by way of some sort of cohesive evil force. That the final “answers” lack logic and fail to explain just about anything, doesn’t much seem to concern the filmmakers, because it’s supernatural after all, and there’s a curse , and a witch , and movies with this stuff can maybe make some money around Halloween, right?

B-movies are of course always going to be B-movies. But many B-movies see their status as an opportunity to take a chance, to try something inventive or absurd. The main issue with “Pay The Ghost,” though, is that it does absolutely nothing new — let alone muster up a reason for its own existence. Every trope that Edel attempts feels plucked from some other, better film, where said trope is executed with truck loads more flair and originality. The highest compliment that can be made of the movie is that it is harmless: never laughably bad, never painful, just pure mediocrity, from start to finish. And that somehow, at some point, somebody was able to convince Academy Award Winner Nicolas Cage to be in it. [D]

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‘pay the ghost’: film review.

Nicolas Cage stars in this supernatural thriller about a man desperately searching for his missing son.

By Frank Scheck

Frank Scheck

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'Pay the Ghost': Film Review

Can we all agree to chip in to support Nicolas Cage so he isn’t reduced to starring in an endless series of negligible B-movies? Case in point: Pay the Ghost , in which the Oscar-winning actor goes through the motions, this time in a derivative horror film that exploits Halloween so shamelessly it might as well be the holiday’s official sponsor.

Cage, once more simultaneously appearing charismatic and somnolent, plays university professor Mike who, for reasons convenient to the plot, specializes in teaching vintage horror fare on the order of The Legend of Sleepy Hollow . Neglectful of his wife Kristen ( Sarah Wayne Callies , The Walking Dead ) and young son Charlie ( Jack Fulton ) because of his obsessive attention to work, Mike finally succeeds in getting tenure, leading him to promise Kristen, “Everything’s going to be better now.”

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It isn’t hard to guess that his rosy prediction won’t last very long, as Mike, wanting to make it up to his son for missing a pumpkin carving session, takes him to a Halloween carnival. Big mistake, since Charlie, after ominously uttering the phrase “pay the ghost,” vanishes into thin air.

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Cue to a year later, with Kristen having left Mike whom she blames for their son’s disappearance and with Mike having manically devoted himself to solving the mystery which the cops have written off. But when Mike starts seeing visions of his son and of the titular phrase plastered on buildings, he manages to convince Kristen that supernatural doings are afoot.

It all leads to a Celtic legend revolving around a 17 th century mother whose children were burned alive and who then was burnt at the stake as a “witch.” It seems that ever since the conflagration she has the power — at least for one day a year, on Halloween, naturally — to abduct children and transport them to her ghostly realm.

Director Uli Edel , whose past work ranges from truly awful (the Madonna vehicle Body of Evidence ) to excellent ( Last Exit to Brooklyn , the Oscar-nominated The Baader Meionhof Complex ), strains very hard to invest the proceedings with creepy atmosphere via repeated shots of menacing vultures, swirling dark clouds on the horizon, and horrific figures popping up like jacks-in-the-box. It might have worked if the story was less cartoonish and more original but, much like the cheap jump scares that are frequently resorted to, the results are less scary than unintentionally comic.

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Not that the film is entirely without intended humor, such as when Mike, desperately interrogating a witch-like figure at a traditional Celtic Halloween gathering, keeps pressing her for information until she finally admits, “I’m just a schoolteacher from Bayside.”

She must have a long commute, since the location, meant to be New York City, is so obviously Canadian that it’s a wonder the characters don’t have accents.

By the time Mike enters a homeless enclave whose residents are led by a mysterious blind man ( Stephen McHattie ) with a strong resemblance to Gene Simmons , it’s apparent that Pay the Ghost has given up the ghost. Viewers will be left pondering such questions as why forensic doctors still insist on performing autopsies while alone in morgue rooms late at night.

Production: Voltage Films, Midnight Kitchen

Cast: Nicolas Cage, Sarah Wayne Callies , Veronica Ferres , Lyriq Bent, Lauren Beatty

Director: Uli Edel

Screenwriter: Dan Kay

Producers: Nicolas Chartier , Craig J. Flores, Ian Levy, Patrick Newall

Executive producers: Dmitry Roshchenko , Dennis Berardi , Cybill Lui , Frank Buchs

Director of photography: Sharone Meir

Production designer: Rupert Lazarus

Editor: Jeff McEvoy

Costume designer: Christopher Hargadon

Composer: Joseph Loduca

Casting: John Buchan , Jason Knight

Not rated, 94 min.

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Film Review: ‘Pay the Ghost’

Nicolas Cage leads a cast-wide sleepwalk through this low-energy supernatural thriller.

By Andrew Barker

Andrew Barker

Senior Features Writer

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'Pay the Ghost' Review: Nicolas Cage Searches For Lost Son

If it’s remembered for nothing else, and it almost certainly won’t be, Uli Edel’s “ Pay the Ghost ” can at least make a claim to being the first film to feature a haunted razor scooter in a horror setpiece. Aside from that relative highlight, this somnolent supernatural thriller is a low-energy wash from start to finish, as a solemn Nicolas Cage searches across fantastical realms for his missing son with all the urgency of a morning run to Starbucks. Hardly anyone here, from cast to director to the below-the-line craftsmen, appears to have put in more than the bare minimum of professional effort, and the lack of enthusiasm proves contagious. Expect a ghostly payout at the box office.

While Cage was once correctly regarded as one of the finest actors of his generation, his decade-long descent into screamingly over-the-top roles in schlocky junk has made him a pitiable figure in certain circles. Still, there was always something admirable about his go-for-broke, saucer-eyed bellowing in the likes of “The Wicker Man,” “Ghost Rider” and “Season of the Witch.” In recent years, however, the actor has often opted for a lower-register approach, though the quality of his film choices has scarcely improved, and he proves a dour presence here as a literature professor named Mike.

Teaching a syllabus that seems to consist solely of Lovecraft, Irving and Goethe’s “Der Erlkonig,” Mike is a rising star at his unnamed New York university, working overtime to secure tenure as Halloween looms on the calendar. Disappointing his young son, Charlie (Jack Fulton), yet again by arriving home too late for trick-or-treating, Mike tries to make it up to him by taking him to a strange street carnival, where the boy vanishes into thin air after cryptically asking, “Can we pay the ghost?” (It’s perhaps needless to say that Charlie had recently been noticing creepy apparitions outside his window and turning in Stephen Gammell-style sketches in art class.)

A year later, despite the strenuous efforts indicated by the cluttered pin-board in Mike’s sparsely furnished apartment, Charlie still hasn’t been found, and his disappearance has driven a wedge between Mike and his wife, Kristen (Sarah Wayne Callies). Yet as Halloween rolls around yet again, Mike begins having strange visions, notices an unusual number of buzzards inhabiting lower Manhattan, and discovers a cult-like homeless encampment with “pay the ghost” written in ostentatious graffiti outside.

Could Charlie’s disappearance be connected to an unusual number of unsolved regional kidnappings that also took place on Halloween? And might they in turn have something to do with the film’s odd 17th-century prologue? Screenwriter Dan Kay takes the most obvious route through this obvious plot, to the point where he almost seems to be scrambling to fill it out to feature length, yet he neglects to fill in the margins with anything beyond boilerplate mystical hokum. Playing one of Mike’s colleagues, German star Veronica Ferres has nothing to do here but read aloud from Mike’s Google searches on ancient Celtic lore. Meanwhile, the detective (Lyriq Bent) assigned to Charlie’s case gets to assert his faith in facts and logic by screaming, “I believe in facts! Logic!”

Decent B-grade horror films have been made from even lazier premises than “Pay the Ghost’s,” but veteran German helmer Edel appears to have little interest in cooking up anything resembling tension. With most scenes mimicking the feel and look of an average “Law & Order” episode — this one largely taking place in New York’s famed Little Toronto neighborhood — Edel will throw an occasional Dutch angle or jump scare into the mix, but his heart never seems to be in it, and even the most enthusiastic horror fan will have a tough time keeping his or her blood pressure up.

Reviewed online, Los Angeles, Sept. 25, 2015. Running time: 94 MIN.

  • Production: A RLJ Entertainment release of a Voltage Pictures presentation of a Voltage Films, Midnight Kitchen production in association with Rodkos Productions and Interpol+ Studios. Produced by Nicolas Chartier, Craig J. Flores, Ian Levy, Patrick Newall. Executive producers, Dmitry Roshchenko, Dennis Berardi, Cybill Lui, Frank Buchs.
  • Crew: Directed by Uli Edel. Screenplay, Dan Kay. Camera (color), Sharone Meir; editor, Jeff McEvoy; music, Joseph Loduca; production designer, Rupert Lazarus; costume designer, Christopher Hargadon; art director, Sean Breaugh; sound, John Thomson; re-recording mixers, Steve Foster, Paul Shubat; visual effects supervisor, Eric Robinson; assistant director, Pierre Henry; casting, John Buchnan, Jason Knight.
  • With: Nicolas Cage, Sarah Wayne Callies, Veronica Ferres, Lyriq Bent, Lauren Beatty, Kalie Hunter, Jack Fulton, Stephen McHattie.

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Review: In ‘Pay the Ghost,’ Nicolas Cage Is on a Mission

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pay the ghost sequel

By Jeannette Catsoulis

  • Sept. 24, 2015

Good actors making poor choices — especially when the actor is Nicolas Cage — is nothing new, but I worry that the dross in his career ledger is rapidly outpacing the gold. A compellingly idiosyncratic performer, he has languished too long in movies unworthy of his commitment and with no room for the seat-of-the-pants improvisations that make him so riveting.

“ Pay the Ghost ” does little to correct that imbalance. Getting a jump on the Halloween glut of heebie-jeebie entertainments, this lukewarm frightener, set in an unrecognizable New York City, recycles missing-child drama through a Celtic folk tale filter. One year after Mike (Mr. Cage), a newly tenured English professor, loses his young son at a Halloween carnival, he’s still on the streets posting fliers and in the doghouse with his estranged wife (Sarah Wayne Callies). He’s also the tormented curator of a “ crazy wall” — that hieroglyph-splattered signifier of extreme mental obsession.

Unconvincing in premise or setting (the couple’s gloomily cavernous home suggests that teaching salaries have soared since I was in academia), Dan Kay’s filament-thin story, accessorized with flapping vultures and disturbing graffiti, relies entirely on Mr. Cage’s desperate-dad energy. Sludgy greens and smudged blacks assault the eyes, and crashing sound cues accompany every scare — dead giveaways of a director, Uli Edel, who trusts neither his audience nor his images. This is all the more surprising when you consider that Mr. Edel, with his 2009 thriller “The Baader Meinhof Complex,” displayed an aptitude for tension that’s completely missing here.

Perhaps he’ll do better in the sequel, which a last-minute image may or may not presage. Too bad you’ll have to sit through the end credits to decide.

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Pay The Ghost

pay the ghost sequel

In recent years, Nicolas Cage has become the butt of many jokes for his scenery chewing, general overacting, and a willingness to appear in all manner of projects you never heard of, no matter how dubious, just to earn a buck. As much as he’s become a punch line, he still occasionally delivers performances, like his turn in David Gordon Green ’s Joe , that remind you that this man did win, and totally deserved to win, an Oscar.

Cage’s latest, the supernatural horror flick Pay the Ghost , falls in between the two ends of the spectrum. His performance never veers to the manic hyperactive screeching about “the bees” like in The Wicker Man , but that’s not to say he doesn’t ham it up from time to time. Directed by Uli Edel ( The Last Exit to Brooklyn ), the movie finds itself in a similar situation, generally walking a subdued, creepy line, but with bursts of craziness that occasionally go overboard.

Mike Cole (Cage) is an English professor with a more or less idyllic life. Sure he works too much, and he’s stressed out waiting to find out if he’ll get tenure, but he has a lovely wife, Kristen (Sarah Wayne Callies, The Walking Dead ) and a devoted son, Charlie (Jack Fulton), who occasionally sees spooky things in the darkness, like a raggedy woman who ominously points at him and then disappears. There is a hint that maybe Mike used to drink too much, that there’s some darkness lurking somewhere, but it’s mentioned once and forgotten about. All of this changes, however, when at a Halloween carnival, Charlie says something spooky about how they need to “pay the ghost,” and vanishes into thin air.

What follows is a predictable string of events that most viewers will see coming a mile off. This puts a strain on Mike and Kristen’s relationship, and a year later he has moved out. He shirks his duties as a teacher, and has become obsessed with finding his son. On his way down the rabbit hole, he pesters overworked cops, runs down any possible lead, and, a few days before Halloween, he starts hearing and seeing Charlie everywhere. Realistically, you’re supposed to wonder if this is real or if Mike is simply losing his grip, but it’s obvious there is something more going on, and as he follows the clues, he stumbles onto a centuries-old supernatural mystery.

Where Pay the Ghost is the strongest is in the look and feel of its settings. Taking place in New York, Edel and company use the city to nice effect, creating a dark, dismal atmosphere with sinister overtones that fit the subject matter. The Halloween carnival provides an opportunity to showcase all manner of spooky imagery, though at times it does go a bit overboard, straying into silly territory.

The threat in Pay the Ghost is vague and mystical, and I get the impulse to keep this shrouded, but for most of the movie, you wonder if the filmmakers will ever actually clue you in to what’s going on. They do eventually, but by that time, late in the film, it comes in the form of two massive, not to mention convenient, information dumps that are not only overwhelming, but stop the film dead in its tracks just when it needs to move the most.

For his part, Cage isn’t at his most overwrought here, but he’s not at the top of his game either. Mostly Mike is a super-animated, engaging teacher who bounces around his classroom reading Goethe—no joke, his students clap for him after a lecture. Early on, that’s when he’s at his best—it’s nothing spectacular, but he’s a solid father with some issues. After Charlie disappears, however, he starts somehow overacting and not at the same time. While he himself may be quiet, his facial expression is most certainly not; he wears an over exaggerated expression of anguish and pain like ghoulish mask through the final two acts.

Pay the Ghost is weird enough to keep it moderately entertaining at times, but only barely. What strangeness there is doesn’t show up until too late to save the picture, and it too often falls back on generic, unimaginative horror tropes—many lights flicker, doors slam, and shadows linger across walls. It’s a movie you watch, that fills up some time, and then you never need to think about again. Pay the Ghost isn’t bad, but it just isn’t good either.

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Pay the Ghost

Pay the Ghost

Review by brian eggert september 25, 2015.

Pay the Ghost

Before watching Nicolas Cage’s latest effort, the supernatural thriller Pay the Ghost , I rewatched the actor in director Gore Verbinki’s odd comedy, The Weather Man, from 2005. It features a wonderful and subtle comedic performance from Cage, who offers an understated character maligned by his own existence, not unlike his roles in Leaving Las Vegas (1995, for which he won the Best Actor Oscar), Adaptation. (2002, nominated for an Oscar), or Martin Scorsese’s Bringing Out the Dead (1999). In the face of Cage’s recent paycheck-cashing fare, most of it barely reaching theaters and much of it barely worthy of a spot in your memory banks, it’s difficult to remember that before Cage was a joke, he was an accomplished performer.

Pay the Ghost may seem similar to Cage’s other efforts as of late (The lovechild of Stolen and Ghost Rider , perhaps?), but its production value and pointed lack of Cage’s standard over-the-topness makes it more consumable. The story opens on Mike (Cage) and Kristen Lawford (Sarah Wayne Callies), parents of the young Charlie (Jack Fulton), who’s been seeing creepy things in his room late at night. Dismissive of their son’s fears, even after he puts together a couple of creepy drawings of the shadowy figure, Mike and Kristen carry on with everyday life—he anxiously awaits his tenure letter from a New York university, while she waits with Charlie for her perpetually late husband.

Trying to make up for missing trick-or-treating on Halloween night, Mike takes Charlie to a neighborhood festival, where everyone’s dressed like ghouls and goblins. After saying, “Can we pay the ghost?” while in line for ice cream, Charlie disappears into thin air. A year goes by with no trace of their missing son, but Mike and Kristen, who are now separated, begin to see visions of Charlie—not to mention buzzards and strange apparitions—as Halloween grows near. Though Kristen quite cruelly blames her husband for what happened, Mike soon discovers that dozens of children go missing every year on Halloween, but few of them are ever found, as opposed to any other day of the year, when the chance of recovery is much higher. He keeps investigating and finds a troubled Celtic ghost may be responsible.

Meanwhile, the detective on the case (Lyriq Bent) refuses to believe anything about the myths surrounding child disappearances on Halloween, whereas Mike’s colleague (Veronica Ferres) has no trouble finding the sources of Celtic terror that have carried on since 1679 (as hinted by the prologue set in the 17th century). Indeed, spooky Celtic folktales about a woman whose children were taken from her somehow build into a yarn about hundreds of masked children being abducted on Halloween. One of the more unsettling images from the film involves the kidnapped victims, all decked out as sad clowns and downtrodden pirates, swarming together on “the other side”—an ethereal plane shrouded in darkness and CGI fog.

Director Uli Edel ( The Baader Meinhof Complex , 2008) brings some consistent, occasionally sharp visual composure to the film (the occasional cockeyed angle), especially thanks to cinematographer Sharone Meir’s location shooting (Toronto stands in for New York). But Pay the Ghost is still a low-budget thriller, reliant on silly moments where the specter in question, with its back to the screen, turns to suddenly scream like a banshee. These moments are less jolting than annoyingly predictable. Along with a nonsensical post-credits scene that defies you to grasp its meaning, the film fails to establish a horror lore we would care to follow in a sequel (clearly the goal here). As for Cage, he’s done a lot worse, but he’s done a lot better too.


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Nicolas Cage Is '2 Percent Open' to the Existence of Ghosts

The actors talks about his first horror movie, Pay the Ghost, what he fears, and whether he would do TV.

Headshot of Matt Patches

In the past, you've described your idiosyncratic acting style as "heavy metal" and "baroque." But after watching you in a horror movie, I wonder if theatrical macabre informs what you do. 

Certainly. I specifically enjoy the old Hammer horror films. I really enjoy all the acting in those. Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee. The thing with Pay the Ghost is I was trying to get to a place of sort of a naturalistic style of acting so that by the time the collision with Annie, the ghost, occurs, hopefully the audience is along for the ride in a very real way. And the thing I found intriguing about the script anyway was the idea of two different elements of horror: One a very real, emotional horror that I think all parents can relate to, losing one's child in public to either an abduction or some sort of accident, evolving then into the kind of supernatural adventure/horror trying to access another dimension and bring your child back from a supernatural place. I thought that was kind of a fresh and exciting evolution for the trajectory of the movie and the character.

You have a young son. This must be relatable.

I think that's the kind of fear that all parents have. To lose one's child is probably the ultimate fear. Then to have to access another dimension I thought was unique and something I wanted to work with. I think on some level, all of us have a little bit of belief in the possibility of different energies and forces and things like that. Otherwise, we wouldn't be afraid of them. Or there wouldn't be so many movies about them.

Do you believe in ghosts? Or paranormal, unseen forces, whatever they may be?

I would say that I'm 98 percent skeptical, but the other 2 percent [is] open for the possibility of things.

Have you ever encountered anything that keeps you open to it?

Nothing I would be able to discuss on public record. I'm not going there.

I could see you as a Halloween guy.

Halloween has always been fascinating to me from a very young age. I think any actor would be fascinated by Halloween because it's one of the only holidays that advocates dressing up in makeup and costumes and transforming oneself. And then it's also one of the only holidays where you get that collision between total strangers and yourself. You have this element of trust, like, "I'm going to go to your doorstep and ring your doorbell, and you're going to give us the family candy, and you're going to come to my door and I'm going to give you candy." It creates a kind of neighborhood trust and exchange that's quite celebratory.

What did you dress up as for Halloween when you were a kid?

I was Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. I think once I was Mephistopheles. I was Dracula. I was always playing these different characters. I was the Wolf Man. I mean, I loved all the great acting roles from horror films. I tried to be Phantom of the Opera, but I couldn't cut it. I wanted to have that Lon Chaney upturned nose, but it was too hard to get there. I remember trying to get Scotch tape to keep my nose pointed up, and it didn't work, and so I had to let that one go.

this image is not available

You've seen everything in your career. What scares you?

Just, you know, mortality. Are the people I love, my family, safe? Sure yeah, I have real fears about wanting everyone to be happy and healthy. What happens when we die, all that stuff you think about the older you get.

I know James Dean was an early influence for you. Do you still think of Dean when you're running around in a ghost movie?

We lost him when he was only 24 years old, but in many ways he's sort of like one of my surrealist fathers, because he is the predominant reason I chose to get into film acting as a career. But in the beginning, I would say I was echoing more of what I saw him do, but then being that I'm going to turn 52 in a couple of months here, I had to keep reinventing myself with different kinds of expression, new ways of film performance, to stay interested. And you can only sort of emulate or borrow from James Dean so many times. So the idea being I had to go into other areas of filmmaking, like horror. I don't believe James Dean ever made a horror film.

On another topic, this season of True Detective made me think of your film Bad Lieutenant in how badly it needed a jolt of Nic Cage. Have you ever been approached for the show, or any television in general? 

I've been invited many times to do television. I just haven't been blessed with being given a script like True Detective. I haven't seen True Detective, but by all accounts, it's a fantastic bit of drama and acting. You know, certainly I never say never, but I haven't been given the quality of script to compel me to go on television.

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Pay the Ghost Movie Review

Pay the Ghost


Pay the Ghost

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Pay the Ghost - watch online: streaming, buy or rent

Currently you are able to watch "Pay the Ghost" streaming on ARROW or for free with ads on Freevee, Pluto TV. It is also possible to rent "Pay the Ghost" on Amazon Video, Google Play Movies, YouTube, Apple TV, Rakuten TV online and to download it on Rakuten TV, Sky Store, Apple TV, Amazon Video, Google Play Movies, YouTube.

Where does Pay the Ghost rank today? The JustWatch Daily Streaming Charts are calculated by user activity within the last 24 hours. This includes clicking on a streaming offer, adding a title to a watchlist, and marking a title as 'seen'. This includes data from ~1.3 million movie & TV show fans per day.

Streaming charts last updated: 01:21:58, 17/01/2024

Pay the Ghost is 8424 on the JustWatch Daily Streaming Charts today. The movie has moved up the charts by 7243 places since yesterday. In the United Kingdom, it is currently more popular than Out of Death but less popular than Dr. Who and the Daleks.

One year after his young son disappeared during a Halloween carnival, Mike Cole is haunted by eerie images and terrifying messages he can’t explain. Together with his estranged wife, he will stop at nothing to unravel the mystery and find their son—and, in doing so, he unearths a legend that refuses to remain buried in the past.

Videos: Trailers, Teasers, Featurettes

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Streaming Charts The JustWatch Daily Streaming Charts are calculated by user activity within the last 24 hours. This includes clicking on a streaming offer, adding a title to a watchlist, and marking a title as 'seen'. This includes data from ~1.3 million movie & TV show fans per day.

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Pay the Ghost (2015) Review

by Michael Juvinall Sep 23, 2015, 12:55 pm 0 Comments

Pay The Ghost

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

Pay the Ghost image

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.

Pay The Ghost image

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.

Pentagram 4 star ratings 2

4 out of 5 Pentagrams!

Watch the trailer here,

Jack Fulton Nicolas Cage Pay The Ghost Reviews RLJ Entertainment Sarah Wayne Callies Supernatural Thriller Uli Edel

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Michael Juvinall

I am a Horror journalist, producer, ravenous Horror fiend, aficionado of the classic Universal Monsters, Hammer Horror, Werewolves, and all things Horror.

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Pay the Ghost (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)

Different stars.

  • 1 Joseph LoDuca Prologue 1:36
  • 2 Joseph LoDuca Main Title 4:01
  • 3 Joseph LoDuca To the Portal 5:05
  • 4 Joseph LoDuca Tenured 1:57
  • 5 Joseph LoDuca Fun House 1:08
  • 6 Joseph LoDuca The Little Pirate 2:20
  • 7 Joseph LoDuca Halloween Band #1 0:57
  • 8 Joseph LoDuca Can You Pay the Ghost? 2:35
  • 9 Joseph LoDuca Charlie's Gone 2:40
  • 10 Joseph LoDuca Obsessed / Find My Son / Graffiti Wall 8:10
  • 11 Joseph LoDuca Not a Good Time / Charlie Visits Kristen 2:47
  • 12 Joseph LoDuca Trying to Reach Out / Reynolds Investigates 6:00
  • 13 Joseph LoDuca The Psychic 2:58
  • 14 Joseph LoDuca Charlie Visits Home 6:23
  • 15 Joseph LoDuca The Portal Song 3:32
  • 16 Joseph LoDuca Halloween Band #2 1:15
  • 17 Joseph LoDuca The Crying Woman 2:14
  • 18 Joseph LoDuca Hannah Is Taken / Annie's Curse 6:12
  • 19 Joseph LoDuca No Time / I've Got You / Let's Go Home 5:22
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Pay the Ghost

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The Marvel Super Villain Taking Over as Ghost Rider Revealed

The hood debuts as the new ghost rider in benjamin percy and danny kim's 'ghost rider: final vengeance,' on sale in march.

Over the years, the Spirit of Vengeance has burned its way through various hosts, and this March, it’ll abandon Johnny Blaze for a new rider in GHOST RIDER: FINAL VENGEANCE !

An evolution of Benjamin Percy ’s acclaimed GHOST RIDER run, this new series will see an iconic super villain unleash hellfire as the new Ghost Rider—the criminal mastermind known as the Hood ! Armed with a demonic cloak and dark mystical abilities, Parker Robbins’ undying lust for more power and fortune has made one of the Marvel Universe’s dangerous threats.

Now with the Spirit of Vengeance claiming what’s left of his soul, there’s no stopping his bloody takeover of the criminal underworld. By the time Johnny Blaze is able to claw his way back from the abyss to reclaim the Spirit of Vengeance , it’ll be far too late! 

Joining Percy will be artist Danny Kim , who delivered a terrifying showdown between Ghost Rider and the Hood in last year’s GHOST RIDER ANNUAL #1 . The rising star has designed a brand-new look for the Hood/Ghost Rider that is sure to strike fear into reader’s hearts!

"Some villains you know all too well. Doctor Doom . Thanos . Mephisto . But I find it especially fun to bring the lesser known baddies out of the shadows and give them a shot at a starring role. That's what I did with Omega Red during X LIVES OF WOLVERINE/X DEATHS OF WOLVERINE —and that's what I'm doing now with Ghost Rider," Percy explained.

"The Hood wants a taste of the big-time. And he's made a deal with the devil to help him on his way," he continued. "This is what happens when the Spirit of Vengeance is stripped from Johnny Blaze and grafted on to a character who has no moral compass. An epic crime saga—flavored with horror—awaits readers in GHOST RIDER: FINAL VENGEANCE."

GHOST RIDER: FINAL VENGEANCE: Hood Ghost Rider character design sheet by Danny Kim


GHOST RIDER: FINAL VENGEANCE #1 cover by Juan Ferreyra


See the Hood embracing his new role in the GHOST RIDER: FINAL VENGEANCE #2 cover by Juan Ferreyra and Kim’s original design sheet. Be there for this dark new chapter of Ghost Rider when GHOST RIDER: FINAL VENGEANCE #1 arrives on March 13.

Grab these comics and more at your local comic book shop! Or redeem then read your digital copy on the  Marvel Unlimited app  by using the code found in your print comic. Find and support your local comic book shop at .

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  1. Pay the Ghost

    Pay the Ghost is a 2015 American supernatural horror film directed by Uli Edel. The screenplay was written by Dan Kay, based on a short story of the same name by Tim Lebbon. [1] The film stars Nicolas Cage, Sarah Wayne Callies, Veronica Ferres, Lauren Beatty, Jack Fulton, and Elizabeth Jeanne le Roux.

  2. Pay the Ghost (2015)

    5.2 /10 19K YOUR RATING Rate Play trailer 2:19 4 Videos 40 Photos Horror Mystery A professor frantically searches for his son who was abducted during a Halloween carnival. Director Uli Edel Writers Dan Kay Tim Lebbon Stars Nicolas Cage Sarah Wayne Callies Veronica Ferres See production info at IMDbPro STREAMING +5 Add to Watchlist

  3. Pay the Ghost movie review & film summary (2015)

    Advertisement Based on a novella by Tim Lebbon, "Pay the Ghost" stars Cage as Mike Lawford, an English teacher who drops references to Lovecraft and Johann Wolfgang von Goethe just so you get the impression that Dan Kay's screenplay comes with great literary aspirations. (Spoiler: It does not.)

  4. Pay the Ghost

    TRAILER 2:17 Pay the Ghost 2015, Mystery & thriller/Horror, 1h 34m 10% Tomatometer 31 Reviews 25% Audience Score 1,000+ Ratings What to know Critics Consensus Pay the Ghost takes a weak stab...

  5. Eye For Film: Pay The Ghost 2

    Eye For Film: Pay The Ghost 2 A sweet little tale about the value of hope and solidarity. ~ Jennie Kermode - The film is replete with tension, and director Anders Walter incorporates some nerve-racking sequences. ~ Jennie Kermode - It's a lively, innovative technique which directly connects style and subject and also facilitates a playful wit.

  6. Pay the Ghost (2015)

    Pay the Ghost Edit Summaries A professor frantically searches for his son who was abducted during a Halloween carnival. One year after Mike Lawford's young son disappeared during a Halloween carnival, he is haunted by ghostly images and terrifying messages he can't explain.

  7. Pay the Ghost

    [Nicholas] Cage's moony-eyed melancholy over his missing kid gets tiring fast and while the film's ghostly Celtic legend is intriguing, the whole thing falls rather flat, made worse by...

  8. Review: Nicolas Cage's Supernatural Thriller 'Pay The Ghost'

    A critic's review of the 2015 horror film \"Pay The Ghost\", starring Nicolas Cage as an English professor who investigates his son's disappearance with his wife and a psychic. The reviewer criticizes the film for its blunt script, lifeless characters, and inane climax, and gives it a low rating of D.

  9. 'Pay the Ghost': Film Review

    By the time Mike enters a homeless enclave whose residents are led by a mysterious blind man ( Stephen McHattie) with a strong resemblance to Gene Simmons, it's apparent that Pay the Ghost has...

  10. 'Pay the Ghost' Review: Nicolas Cage Searches For Lost Son

    If it's remembered for nothing else, and it almost certainly won't be, Uli Edel's " Pay the Ghost " can at least make a claim to being the first film to feature a haunted razor scooter in a...

  11. Review: In 'Pay the Ghost,' Nicolas Cage Is on a Mission

    "Pay the Ghost" does little to correct that imbalance. Getting a jump on the Halloween glut of heebie-jeebie entertainments, this lukewarm frightener, set in an unrecognizable New York City ...

  12. Pay the Ghost: Trailer 1

    Pay the Ghost: Trailer 1. 0 seconds of 2 minutes, 17 secondsVolume 90%. 00:00. 02:17. This video file cannot be played.

  13. Watch Pay The Ghost

    Pay The Ghost. One year after his young son disappeared during a Halloween carnival, Mike Lawford (Nicolas Cage) will stop at nothing to unravel the mystery of the kidnapping and find his son. 1,233 1 h 34 min 2015. X-Ray 16+

  14. Pay The Ghost

    Subscribe to Voltage Pictures for all our latest releases: The GhostA professor frantically searches for his son who was abducted du...

  15. Pay the Ghost streaming: where to watch online?

    Currently you are able to watch "Pay the Ghost" streaming on Amazon Prime Video, Hulu, AMC Plus Apple TV Channel , AMC+ Amazon Channel or for free with ads on The Roku Channel, Tubi TV, Pluto TV. It is also possible to rent "Pay the Ghost" on Redbox, Amazon Video, Vudu, Apple TV, Microsoft Store, Google Play Movies, YouTube online and to ...

  16. Pay The Ghost

    Cage's latest, the supernatural horror flick Pay the Ghost, falls in between the two ends of the spectrum. His performance never veers to the manic hyperactive screeching about "the bees ...

  17. Pay the Ghost (2015)

    Before watching Nicolas Cage's latest effort, the supernatural thriller Pay the Ghost, I rewatched the actor in director Gore Verbinki's odd comedy, The Weather Man, from 2005.It features a wonderful and subtle comedic performance from Cage, who offers an understated character maligned by his own existence, not unlike his roles in Leaving Las Vegas (1995, for which he won the Best Actor ...

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    You'd expect the ecstatic Cage in his new film, Pay the Ghost, a horror movie with blunt paranormal activity. But it's also a movie about a father searching for his son, who went missing one...

  19. Pay the Ghost Movie Review

    Pay the Ghost gets a limited theatrical release on September 25th 2015, but you can also find it on Video on Demand like Amazon. And if you're looking for a pretty decent horror with a few scares and a solid story, then definitely give this one a try. And out of TOV 5 stars, I give Pay the Ghost a 3.5. ...

  20. Pay the Ghost

    Pay the Ghost is 8030 on the JustWatch Daily Streaming Charts today. The movie has moved up the charts by 7054 places since yesterday. In the United Kingdom, it is currently more popular than Evolution but less popular than The Hunchback of Notre Dame.

  21. Pay the Ghost

    7.5K ...more ...more Oscar winner Nicolas Cage (Leaving Las Vegas) stars in this intense and chilling thriller about one man's desperate search for his missing child. One year af...

  22. Pay the Ghost (2015) Review

    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 ).

  23. Pay the Ghost (movie, 2015)

    In «Pay the Ghost," Nicolas Cage investigates a supernatural abduction but has no solution for the maggot-eaten zombie that is his undead career. Detroit News September 25, 2015 Fine, sure, «Pay the Ghost» if you have to. But do not pay good American money to see the movie of the same name. ...

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  25. The Marvel Super Villain Taking Over as Ghost Rider Revealed

    GHOST RIDER: FINAL VENGEANCE #2 Written by BENJAMIN PERCY Art by DANNY KIM Cover by JUAN FERREYRA On Sale 4/18. See the Hood embracing his new role in the GHOST RIDER: FINAL VENGEANCE #2 cover by Juan Ferreyra and Kim's original design sheet. Be there for this dark new chapter of Ghost Rider when GHOST RIDER: FINAL VENGEANCE #1 arrives on ...