Going into a film with low expectations can be a wonderful thing.

On the one hand, there is the prospect of being genuinely surprised, caught out by something that actually turns out to be pretty tasty.

On the other hand, if the film turns out to be a dud, you don’t feel that aggrieved at having spent 90 minutes or so sitting through it.

Pay The Ghost certainly slips into the latter category, a film that quickly fizzles out after an okay opening into a mass of clichés, dodgy CGI and silly plot points.

With Nicholas Cage in the lead maybe we shouldn’t be too surprised, but he isn’t actually the problem here.

That lies with the script, a potpourri of seen-it-all-before moments that will hold little, if any, surprise for the seasoned horror fan.

Cage stars as Mike Lawford, a literature professor who likes nothing more than dabbling in the works of Lovecraft.

Married to The Walking Dead’s Sarah Wayne Callies and with a seven-year-old son, things seem to be good.

But all that changes when Mike’s son Charlie (Jack Fulton) disappears during a Halloween street party, having creeped out his parents with talk of demons, faces at the window and having to ‘pay the ghost’.

Digging into the disappearance, Lawford finds that a number of kids have mysteriously vanished on Halloween never to return, which leads him to talk of Celtic legends, poking around in dark alleyways and plenty of red herrings.

It’s all quickly paced and, as I said at the outset, the set-up is decent, with Cage and Callies perfectly acceptable as grief-stricken parents.

But then director Uli Edel starts throwing in CGI vultures, blind soothsayers and forced plot twists to keep the momentum going, and the whole thing descends from interesting to tiring.

It’s also the type of film where a character professes to know nothing about Charlie’s vanishing act, only to then immediately launch into a five-minute monologue which explains EXACTLY the reason behind said disappearance.

It’s also the type of film where we get Cage running after a child he thinks is Charlie, only to whirl the kid round and realise it isn’t his son after all, and god knows how many times we’ve seen that trick trotted out.

Even worse, Edel also insists in throwing in a mid-credits sting that does not make any real sense – and is totally unnecessary.

Pay The Ghost is far from a disaster – I’ve seen much, much worse – it’s just it offers painfully little in terms of originality and you’ll have forgotten the whole thing as soon as you remove the disc.

DVD Review: Pay The Ghost
2.0Overall Score
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About The Author

Simon Fitzjohn

Simon is a journalism tutor in London, who also just happens to be a movie fanatic, with a craving for the darker side of cinema. He has written two books, one on the horror films of director Bob Clark (2014) and the other on the history of the character Norman Bates (2015). His third book, on the work of British exploitation director Pete Walker, is due in 2017.