Fantastic Fest 2018: Between Worlds


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 enjoys television to a stunning degree, along with various movies of questionable cultural value. His 90s college education left him woefully unprepared for the real job of the future: curating a profitable social media presence. The last video game he played well was Goldeneye. He can be heard on The TV Dudes podcast, The Good Die Young podcast, and elsewhere.