The latest film from Nicolas Cage, a grim comedy called Prisoners of the Ghostland, centers on a special-needs inmate who gets locked up for the murder of his car troubleshooter. And to say this film isn’t having a huge theatrical launch is an understatement. Released to roughly 60 theaters and eight VOD platforms (including various video-on-demand services), it has earned a mere $13,000 since opening to online acclaim on Friday, per Box Office Mojo.
But perhaps this is simply an aberration — why rush to market when your material should have the chance to gather resonance in the wider cultural experience? As the reviews have noted, the film is something of a twist on the legend of the haunted car, with Cage playing with the horror-movie genre to great effect. But it’s tough to overstate what an event this would have been years ago. Back in 2006, you could see Nicolas Cage making his movie debut in The Wicker Man, horror film abomination that opened right after the summer of the great script and star-studded success of Hollywood blockbuster, The Hulk. Sadly, The Wicker Man, which was directed by and co-starred David Koepp, is still out of copyright.
The problem is, if the Grim Reaper wanted to write his own epitaph, he’d call Nicolas Cage “Hulk Nic.”
With Prisoners of the Ghostland, it appears he’s taking the plunge and going full Cage — as a player that seems at once eccentric and grounded in reality. The most remarkable thing about the character is that he keeps himself from being grotesque, thanks to his ability to withstand, and even over withstand, any wounding that might have befallen him while incarcerated. He seems like the kind of man who only had to change a pair of pants or two — but he’s not, and that’s the best thing that ever happened to him.