Between Worlds is the latest indie genre film in Nicolas Cage’s mini-renaissance. Previously, films like Mom and Dad and Mandy have utilized Cage to full effect in weird, exciting stories. Unfortunately, Between Worlds doesn’t come close to either of those films, presenting an interesting premise in a flat, made-for-TV-like package.
Written and directed by Maria Pulera, Between Worlds is about a lonely trucker named Joe (Cage) who meets a mysterious woman named Julie (Franka Potente). Julie’s daughter Billie (Penelope Mitchell) was in a bad motorcycle accident and is near death. As it happens, Julie has the ability to leave her body and bring people back from the dead—but, when she does that for Billie, she instead brings back Mary, Joe’s dead ex-wife, who takes over Billie’s body. That leaves Joe in quite the predicament. He’s a flawed guy with a good heart who seems to be finding happiness with Julie. But he’s also tempted by her young daughter, who now has the memories and traits of the love of his life.
By that premise alone, there’s so much room for drama: big fights, tense interactions, uncomfortable exchanges. Unfortunately, the film has very little of that; it’s almost totally devoid of tension, drama, or personality. Even when these huge revelations are made to the characters, it all happens in a very “Oh shucks,” matter-of-fact kind of way. For instance, when Joe realizes Billie is actually Mary, there are a few moments of shock, followed by total belief and compliance. No one ever seems particularly surprised about anything at any point in the film, which wastes the entire premise.
You’d think some energy would at least come from seasoned actors like Cage and Potente, but you’d be wrong. While Cage has a few moments here and there, for the most part, both performers coast through the movie as if they are drunk and stoned. (Which, to be fair, their characters frequently are—it’s how they stay totally numb to the world around them.) It also doesn’t help that the score by Jason Solowsky feels like a Southern-baked lullaby, adding another layer that’s just a bit too laid-back. The music definitely matches what Pulera puts on screen, but it doesn’t give the movie a much-needed pulse.
Between Worlds is a massive disappointment: a great idea with amazing talent, but an unfortunately flat execution. It had its world premiere at Fantastic Fest 2018 and currently does not have a U.S. release date.