Fantastic Fest Review: BETWEEN WORLDS Is Weirder Than Your Average Nic Cage Joint

Is it a good movie? Who cares?

Between Worlds is a weird-ass movie.

There's a part of me that wants to end the article right there, leaving you, dear reader, to wonder what the hell I'm on about so that you might experience the latest Nicolas Cage film for yourself. Because I have to get into the weeds if I'm going to do this film any sort of justice, believe me when I say you should back away if you want to avoid spoilers, even though I don't know if this is a film you can "spoil" in the conventional sense. I very much mean that I'm going to go over this movie's weirder moments one by one. So, one more time for good measure:

Between Worlds is a bonkers movie that Cage aficionados are likely going to want to experience for themselves, so be warned that THIS ARTICLE CONTAINS SPOILERS.

Alright, still here? Great.

The premise of Between Worlds is pretty bizarre, but not necessarily any more out there than another high concept indie project. Joe (Nicolas Cage) is a truck driver struggling with the loss of his wife Mary and their young daughter in a house fire that occurred while he was out on a driving job. While stopped to refuel, he comes across a woman getting choked in the restroom. He beats up her attacker, to which she exclaims that he has ruined everything. It turns out that she, Julie (Franka Potente), is a medium who can commune with spirits when placed in near-death situations, and upon receiving the news that her daughter Billie (Penelope Mitchell) was in a motorcycle accident-induced coma, she decided, instead of heading straight to the hospital, to enlist the help of a stranger to choke her way into the spirit world to see if Billie was okay.

Joe feels sympathy for Julie near-brush with losing her only family, postponing his current delivery to drive her to the hospital and comfort her in her time of need. When Billie wakes up from her coma, though, she seems different, somehow jealous of Joe and Julie's developing romance despite never having met Joe before. I get the attraction, considering that Cage plays Joe as a perpetually grimy, clueless, self-pitying wretch of a man, grunting and tweaking his way through conversations like a meth-addled gorilla. Who wouldn't wanna tap that?

Anyway, about one somewhat banal hour into this ninety minute movie, Billie finally tells Joe that she isn't Billie at all, but the spirit of Mary inhabiting Billie's body, and that she wants to start building a life again with Joe. And Joe, being the all-around nice guy that he is, starts fucking his new girlfriend's daughter behind her back. And I hope you like seeing clothed Nic Cage fucking, because there's a lot of it, and Billie is into some metatextually kinky shit. How kinky? While having sex, Billie directs Joe to read aloud from a book. The book's title is "Memories." The book's author is Nicolas Cage.

Yeah, I don't know either.

Of course, Julie eventually discovers what Joe and Mary are doing with her daughter's body, so after she confronts Joe – who is wearing a banana hammock that leaves very little to the imagination as to what Nic Cage's dick looks like – Mary convinces Joe that they need to run away together. So naturally they knock Julie out before she can manipulate herself into the spirit realm, beat Billie's boyfriend with a baseball bat, accidentally killing his roommate in the process, and flee to… their old house that apparently burned down but half the rooms appear entirely untouched by fire damage. Whatever ruffles your nifkin, I guess. No judgments.

Julie follows. Mary dramatically reveals that she set the fire that killed Joe's daughter, and the distress this revelation causes allows Julie to kick Mary out and bring Billie back to her body. Meanwhile, Joe slips into a classic Nic Cage breakdown at the revelation, hiccupping laughter and gesticulating head motions either signaling emotional distress or especially traumatic constipation. It's anyone's guess. With only his daughter's jack-in-the-box to keep him company, Joe starts pouring a conveniently present can of gasoline over himself. Chuckling, Joe takes out his lighter, igniting a cigarette and himself in the process, all while "Leader of the Pack" plays over the soundtrack to bid this sweet prince good night.

So why would I go ahead and just detail all the weird stuff that happens in Between Worlds instead of analyzing the film for its artistic merit? Well, to be honest, I don't know that there's a whole lot here to deconstruct. I could bullshit something about how Joe is looking to recapture a dead past that will never live up to the idealized vision he holds in his mind, but we all know the real reason to watch this movie is to see Nicolas Cage do some bizarre Nicolas Cage acting.

And that's exactly what you get. The first hour of the film takes itself more or less seriously, but Cage's gonzo ticks make Joe a fascinating character to watch so that by the time the real insane shenanigans start up, they feel right in line with the foundation that Cage laid without losing their shock value. Folks looking for the next Mandy might need to keep waiting, but Between Worlds is an absolutely bugnuts display of Nicolas Cage's cult appeal, and an experience worth having just for the virtue of being able to say you had it.