Pay the Ghost (Blu-ray Review)

Pay the GhostOscar 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 after his young son disappeared during a Halloween carnival, Mike Lawford (Cage) is haunted by eerie images and terrifying messages he can’t explain. Together with his estranged wife (Sarah Wayne Callies, The Walking Dead), 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.

Pay the Ghost


Pay the Ghost is one of Nicolas cage’s newest films to hit video, limited theatrical release, and VOD platforms. There’s an obvious reason as to why and that’s because it’s not a good film at all. The premise starts off strong, though. On one uneventful night, Mike Lawford (Cage), takes his son to a Halloween carnival down the street from the family home. During the festivities Mike and his son become separated and the frantic search begins. Together with his estranged wife, Kristen (Sarah Wayne Callies), they set out to find their son.

Okay, saying that he is estranged from his wife at the beginning of the film is a bit of stretch. There’s a passage of time before she becomes estranged since she technically blames him for the disappearance. As Mike continues on with his life he can’t help but see the writings on the wall. Literally. Weird messages appear on the walls throughout the city that everyone seems to be oblivious to. There’s also a creepy blind dreadlocked guy who stands as a sort of gatekeeper to the “other side.” There’s no back-story to the character – he’s just there, because the material calls for it. You know, in a city of a few million, there’s a tunnel in plain sight that whisks you off to certain doom, but I digress.

There’s a connection to whole mysterious event and Mike takes his findings to the police, who in turn, promise him that they will do the best they can in locating his son. Then that’s that. The problem I had with Pay the Ghost, besides everything, is that it’s a dull and lazy film. It’s surprising due to the talent involved. The film is directed by Uli Edel who also directed the fantastic film: The Baader Meinhof Complex a few years ago. Looking at his latest filmography, however, I can see that something like Pay the Ghost was more than likely a “paycheck” film. I also didn’t care for the fact that some characters are introduced, spout some line, and are never seen again.

In any event, as the film progresses to its silly complex we’re treated to some really awful mumbo jumbo about ghosts and longing and the various dimensions between the living and the dead, etc. It’s not convincing or silly enough to be entertained. Even Nicolas Cage’s “tortured” character comes off rather hokey. Some of the typical jump scares were effective, but like I said, the film reaches a laughable climax and not even Nicolas Cage can save the material from mediocrity.


Pay the Ghost


Encoding: AVC/MPEG-4

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1


Depth: The film does have a “grit” factor which carries through to the digital source, with only a few instances of softness.

Black Levels: Black levels were strong – deep and inky and free of compression articles.

Color Reproduction: The color palette is muted, with only a few scenes scattered about that carry any color in them.

Flesh Tones: Likewise, flesh tones, depending on the scene are muted. Muted but folks still look healthy and natural except when they’re not looking healthy and natural.

Noise/Artifacts: I did not notice any instances of noise or artifacts. The digital source was clean.


 Pay the Ghost



Audio Format(s): English DTS-HD MA 5.1

Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish

Dynamics: The sound track to Pay the Ghost is aggressive but it doesn’t pummel you over the head with the action.

Low Frequency Extension: The LFE is deep and handles all the low-end rumbles quite well.

Surround Sound Presentation: The rear channels handle ambient tones and all those spooky things that tend to fly all around. In this case they’re mostly shady crows.

Dialogue Reproduction: Dialogue levels were great.



Pay the Ghost




Pay the Ghost


Pay the Ghost is quite an awful film. The Blu-ray has great technical specs in terms of video and audio but all goes back down into the crapper, because there are no extras to be found. Pay the Ghost is one of the worst films of 2015.



Pay the Ghost is released on Blu-ray & DVD November 10th.




Pay the Ghost


Gerard Iribe is a writer/reviewer for Why So Blu?. He has also reviewed for other sites like DVD Talk, Project-Blu, and CHUD, but Why So Blu? is where the heart is. You can follow his incoherency on Twitter: @giribe

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