Arcadian Movie Review: Let Nicolas Out of His Cage

Ben Brewer’s Arcadian opens with Paul (Nicolas Cage) running for his life in what appears to be an apocalypse-level event for planet Earth. We don’t know who the enemy is, but there are sirens, smoke, and gunshots coming from everywhere. Paul has been running to retrieve supplies for his infant twin sons. The mother has either gotten separated from them, or is likely deceased. Fifteen years pass in the blink of an eye, and Paul, his son Joseph (Jaeden Martell), and his son Thomas (Maxwell Jenkins), live in a cottage where they rely on the land but batten down the hatches every night and try to stay away from “something” on the first floor. One must assume that this little, stone cottage is what the title, Arcadian, refers to. There are no other clues.

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At night, the monsters arrive. They are gray and gooey and have a way of unfurling, expanding their bodies that is super unsettling. That is about all the description one is likely to get, as the monsters live in the dark, are hurt by the light, and look nothing like the vampires they are obviously modeled on. We also know that nobody has tried to catch one, alive or dead, in the intervening years. Unfortunately, the scares are quite few and far between. This is in part because it is pretty simple to stay in after dark, though the boys put this to the test at times. The neighbors, thankfully, are not quite so lucky at navigating the territory.

As for the neighbors, there are indicators that there are quite a few, but they all refuse to work together. The everybody-for-themselves attitude helps to keep the plot going. One boy is seeing the girl who lives down the lane and the other boy likes to draw and build machines. Daily routines begin to change as the boys need more space of their own and start coming home closer and closer to nightfall. One night, one of the boys is trying to beat the dark when he falls into a crevasse. Paul goes to find and help him, blows himself up during their escape, and spends most of the rest of the film in a coma. Up until the coma, Nicolas Cage was all that was keeping the action going, so this is a great loss.

As for the rest of the film, the boys take turns showing off their acting technique, which is understated and quite solid. Paul’s body is dragged from place to place for no discernible reason. Sadie Soverall is quite good as the neighbor, Charlotte, though her role could easily be summed up as “female.” Overall, this is a mostly solid actioner when Nicolas Cage is brooding and protective on screen, but loses traction when he is off screen. The monsters are interesting in theory, but trying to figure out what they are is too taxing to be enjoyable.

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Greg Hammond


  1. Odetocode78910 on April 12, 2024 at 7:37 pm

    Great movie review, didn’t even read it, but it’s still great.

  2. Greg Hammond on May 10, 2024 at 2:09 pm

    It is even better once you read it.

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