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Rated 2.93 stars
by 297 people

ReelTalk Movie Reviews
Finding Charlie
by Betty Jo Tucker

Celtic mythology, child abduction, police procedures, domestic drama, and the supernatural come together in Pay the Ghost, a horror thriller about a frantic father trying to find out what happened to his young son who disappeared mysteriously while the two of them were attending a Halloween carnival.

A child is gone, and who knows where?

His dad and mom get quite a scare!

ďPay the ghost, " young Charlie said.

But now is he alive or dead?


A strange figure he saw at night.

And that gave him an awful fright.

Itís Halloween, so he has fun

as a pirate Ė quite a cute one.


The fun soon ends, and he is gone.

What ghost wants paid for a past wrong?

Nicolas Cage plays the sad dad,

who wonít quit searching for his lad.


Pay the Ghost looks good and creepy,

but some scenes just made me sleepy.

Even horror films should make sense

and keep at bay complete nonsense.

Although itís difficult to suspend disbelief when watching this often incoherent film, Nicolas Cage does a good job projecting his characterís panic and feelings of guilt as well as his determination to solve the mystery that changed his life so dramatically in just one year.

Fortunately, Cage receives strong support from key cast members, including: Sarah Wayne Callies (TVís The Walking Dead) as his estranged wife; Jack Fulton (Pixels) as his darling little son: and Lyriq Bent (Saw IV ) as the concerned but very busy detective assigned to the case. Plus, excellent cinematography by Sharone Meir (Whiplash) and Joseph LoDucaís (TVís Xena: Warrior Princess) background music help create the creepy atmosphere needed here.

How I wish the rest of the movie fared as well! Supernatural elements in Pay the Ghost failed to work for me. Thatís quite a surprise, because any movie involving a child in peril -- be it from ghosts or real-life people -- usually draws me in and holds my attention throughout. But this time the ghostly legend seems too complicated and outrageous to make sense. Also, a few poorly done CGI effects are hard to take.     

Still, Pay the Ghost contains the traditional jump scares as well as some menacing vultures and other frightening things to raise those hairs on the back of your neck. Thatís why I think many horror fans might enjoy it. And so will some Nicolas Cage fans.  

(Released by RLJ Entertainment; not rated by MPAA. Directed by Uli Edel from Dan Kay's screenplay adaptation of  Tim Lebbon's novella.)

For more information about Pay the Ghost, go to the IMDb or Rotten Tomatoes website.

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