Erotic thrillers in general are few and far between, but erotic thrillers starring Nicolas Cage romping through the spirit world are even less so. This is the loose and wild premise of Maria Pulero’s Between Worlds, that rides bravely through the blazing fires to complete what will one day surely be titled Cage’s ‘mania trilogy’ (including Mandy and Mom & Dad).
Starring as a deadbeat truck driver clad in dirty trucker hat, hip flask and hefty knuckle rings, Cage plays Joe, a loner still reeling from the death of his wife and daughter in a tragic accident. One day during a routine gas station stop he walks into the bathroom to find a woman being strangled. Instead of being grateful at Joe’s helpful manner to stop the situation, the woman in question, Julie (Franka Potente), tells Joe that he’s ‘ruined everything’. Julie then explains that her daughter, Billie (Penelope Mitchell), is in a coma from a motorbiking accident and that Julie has the power to travel within the spirit world when she is choked- Joe had interrupted Julie attempting to contact her daughter in the spirit world to guide her back to her body.
Joe agrees to help Julie and they successfully manage to return the spirit to Billie’s body. Momentarily all is well with the world and Julie invites Joe to come and stay with her for the night, the pair engage in some pretty aggressive love-making, much to the dismay of Billie, who has awoken from her coma with a feverish desire for some greasy trucker loving too. A complicated and at times uncomfortable love triangle develops as Cage bangs his way through many a scene with a frenzied energy, experiencing visions of moments never quite clear if they are past or future and all soundtracked with an alluring Angelo Badalamenti (Twin Peaks) theme.
Sound completely insane? It is. Billie’s behaviour grows ever more concerning as the plot becomes more entangled and Penelope Mitchell revels in the opportunity to square up to Cage’s brazen performance as Joe and Julie try to solve what has happened to Billie. From this point on Between Worlds dives headfirst into realms of insanity that only Nic Cage could make acceptable. Due to Badalamenti’s theme the comparisons to Twin Peaks go hand-in-hand, the film has a haphazard Lynchian quality to it and some of the stranger visions Joe experiences are undeniably quite beautiful. It is important to note though, that most coverage of the film, and even the trailer, give too much away and destroy the mystery. This is certainly a picture to go into blind.
Pulera manages to convey a kind of batshit crazy originality in her writing that with a helping hand in refinement could prove her to be an interesting voice in genre film-making in the future. Between Worlds certainly is entertaining, its ambition just needed to be reeled in for a more coherent story, it teeters right on the edge of one too many ‘what the fuck?’ moments. However, anyone interested in the anarchy of Cage’s current hit or miss late-career choices should certainly not pass this one up. It might fall somewhere in the middle of the taste scale but features plenty of overblown line delivery and a destructive final act that will definitely satisfy his fans. The mystery alone is enough to fuel intrigue for 90 minutes.
The question doesn’t need to be answered as to whether Between Worlds is actually a Good Film, and that’s the joy of The Cage. Questionable movies are offered moments of brilliance and hilarity through his commitment and Pulera manages to derive some of that deranged brilliance in multiple scenes. The question is rather whether you’re willing to hop aboard the Cage-mania train at high speed and journey through the trash to get to some sweet treasure.
by Chloe Leeson
Chloe Leeson is the founder of Screen Queens. She hails from the north of England (the proper north that people think is actually Scotland but isn’t). Her lifesource is Harmony Korine’s 90s Letterman interviews and Ezra Miller’s jawline. She is a costume designer for hire who spends way too much time watching bad horror movies. Her favourite films are Into The Wild, Lords of Dogtown, Stand by Me and Pan’s Labyrinth. She rants about cinema screenings @kawaiigoff and logs them on letterboxd here