Movie Review: Pay the Ghost (2015)

Synopsis: After failing to follow through on a promise to carve a pumpkin with his son, Charlie, college professor Mike Lawford takes the 7-year-old to a Halloween carnival in an attempt to make it up to him, only to have Charlie disappear while Mike is buying an ice cream cone. Nearly a year later, Mike and his estranged wife, Kristen, begin hearing and seeing Charlie and Mike realizes his son's abduction is one of many that might have been carried out by the vengeful spirit of a Celtic woman who, along with her children, was burned alive for being a witch.

Who's in it? The movie stars Nicolas Cage, Sarah Wayne Callies, Jack Fulton, Veronica Ferres and Lauren Beatty.

Review: This was one of a few movies my wife picked out while at the library a couple days ago. We ended up watching it yesterday evening and, while I did have some doubts about it, I ended up enjoying it a lot more than expected.

I think the thing I liked best about this film was the overall mystery surrounding Charlie's (Fulton) abduction. A lot of movies would have the protagonist find out the truth in a very convenient fashion, but this film refreshingly made Mike (Cage) go through a bit of a journey to find that truth, including going down a couple wrong paths, something that made the ending much more rewarding.

As part of that, I thought the first part of the movie was done perfectly. It seemed to drag on a little bit at first but, at the same time, gave subtle clues about what was going to happen and the abduction itself was done in a way that didn't make it look supernatural, making the police department's standard investigative measures (including investigating Mike) appropriate - versus movies that make it a little too obvious there was something else going on.

I also thought the emotional roller coaster from Charlie's abduction seemed very realistic, including things like panic, sadness, anger and finger pointing. It made the event a lot more believable.

I do feel like the movie would have been a bit better had it spent a little more time on the spirit world, which seemed both creepy and cool at the same time. This could have been accomplished by getting rid of the scenes involving the ghost (Beatty and Kalie Hunter) killing anyone attempting to help Mike and Kristen (Callies), simply because those scenes honestly didn't seem to fit with the ghost's intentions.

I also wasn't overly crazy about the ending, mostly because I felt like it left a lot of loose ends, including how Mike was going to explain things to the authorities, who I think would almost definitely arrest him for kidnapping based on how the film ended. Unlike other movies, it wasn't bad enough to ruin the entire film but still left me a little disappointed.

Final Opinion: It's not particularly scary and, as I said, there were a couple ways the film could have been slightly better. However, overall, I thought it was an OK movie and didn't hate it.

My Grade: B-


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