Fantastic Fest 2018: Between Worlds

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In Maria Pulera’s possession love story Between Worlds, Nicolas Cage plays Joe, a leather pants aficionado (and long-haul trucker) haunted by the memory of his deceased wife and child.

Popping pills at a truck stop one night, he interrupts Julie (Franka Potente) from a near-death experience and quickly becomes romantically entangled with her. She enlists Joe in a desperate effort to find the lost soul of her comatose daughter, Billie (Penelope Mitchell), which is possible because Julie can contact the dead.

What happens from there is possibly the most awkward love triangle I’ve ever seen on screen, played to the hilt with the unhinged verve only Nic Cage can muster. Billie wakes from the coma possessed by the spirit of Joe’s dead wife. Rather than a simple story of the spirit realm gone wrong, we get the awful horror of a malicious spirit that is also everything the main character wants (and knows he can’t have).

The movie went in directions I never saw coming, hinting at themes of loss and grieving while swinging wildly through sex scenes and suffering glances. At one point, Joe (the character) reads something written by Cage (the actor). There is simply no way to prepare you for it. Likewise, the movie has shifted my feelings towards a song in a way no movie has done since Reservoir Dogs claimed “Stuck in the Middle.” I don’t want to spoil what happens, but Leader of the Pack belongs to Between Worlds now.

I wish the opening credits and overall look of the movie had been slightly higher budget. I’m not sure whether that owes to the actual cameras, or the graphics themselves. Something about the image resolution felt beneath the film’s pedigree, given the acting talent on screen. I started the movie with a made-for-TV impression of it, which then had to then be overcome by the story, direction and performance. Thankfully, Maria Pulera still delivered for me with a stunningly bonkers love story set against the horror of a possession. The madness she put on display more than overcame my technical gripe, and Between Worlds was a satisfying, if awkward ride.

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Les Weiler has been escaping into visual entertainment since he first realized he was stuck growing up in the rural south. He eventually escaped to college, completing a degree at The University of Texas at Austin while settling comfortably into the city. Despite new and exciting environs, television and movies already had their hooks set. Local enablers like I Luv Video, Vulcan Video, and Alamo Drafthouse helped nourish his penchant for pop culture, and now it’s too late. Les obsesses about television and movies like it's his job, and sometimes, it is. You can hear him talk enthusiastically about everything (really... whether it’s Fraggle Rock or Westworld, there’s a good chance Les watched some of it) on various podcasts, including (but not limited to) The TV Dudes, The Good Die Young, and more, while also providing reviews and interviews for That's My Entertainment. Les lives in Austin, Texas with his two dogs, and probably should be working right now.