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Netflix Has A Creepy Nicolas Cage Thriller You've Probably Never Seen

Oscar-winning actor Nicolas Cage has been serving up delightfully unhinged performances since the eighties and nineties, when he starred in movies like Vampire's Kiss and David Lynch's Wild at Heart. More recently, Cage has brought his particular brand of wonderful weirdness to indie thrillers and horror gems like Mandy, Color Out of Space, and Mom and Dad. If you're looking for another dose of whatever he's doing, there's a Cage starring thriller on Netflix you might have missed.

Between Worlds was written and directed by Maria Pulera, and stars Cage as Joe, a truck driver who lost his wife and daughter in a tragic fire. While on the road, he meets a woman named Julie (Franka Potente) who professes to have a connection to the spiritual world thanks to a childhood accident that almost killed her. Joe and Julie begin to date but things soon get complicated thanks to Julie's daughter, Billie (Penelope Mitchell), who comes out of a coma after a motorcycle accident and professes to be possessed by the spirit of Joe's dead wife.

If that synopsis sounds like it's treading some familiar territory, it's important to note that the Devil is in the details, and in the case of Between Worlds — and, much like Cage's real-life burial plans — the details are profoundly strange. This thriller doesn't shy away from making some bold and outrageous choices, which is to be expected from a Cage film. In the case of Between Worlds, the oddities the result of a fruitful collaboration between actor and director.

What Nicolas Cage has to say about the director of Between Worlds

The relationship between a lead actor and a director can make or break a film, and in the case of Between Worlds, it seems that Cage and Pulera got on like a house on fire. Or, in this case, a spirit of the dead and a human host.

During a wide-ranging interview with Collider, Cage was asked to speak about what inspired him during the development of his character in the film. Cage responded by lavishing praise onto Pulera, saying, "With this movie my full inspiration would be working with the director. She is unlike anyone I've ever met before. She is truly a unique and a gifted personality who seemed to have a very clear vision of an almost raunchy yet heartfelt and comical approach to the way she wanted to use me and whatever my abilities were in the movie."

For Pulera, the feeling was mutual. During an interview with The Moveable Fest she said, "I have to credit Nicolas Cage...He's my muse. I found him very, very inspiring in terms of pushing me to take the risks as well. It was like being in a car with a really fast driver, and just saying, 'Okay, am I going to close my eyes or open my eyes here?'"

The director of Between Worlds made sure the film's set was in touch with the beyond

As the title suggests, Between Worlds deals in the realm of the supernatural. Themes of psychic connections, reincarnation, and possession play heavily into both the narrative and the unnerving thriller elements throughout the film. Pulera took her commitment to get the right vibe for the movie very seriously, so much so that she had a medium on set during filming.

She told 1428 Elm, "[T]here was a medium who came to the set. I've had fascination with the other side, and everyone has the ultimate fantasy of bringing someone back that you love, but here we end up bringing the wrong person back, it's a story between worlds." In another answer, she extrapolated on her history of exploring the worlds between: "But there is a fascination with the other side and this global phenomena, and I've been there, and the shamans crossed to the other side, and there were communicating mediums, they give a strong sense of time, and it was scary, there was definitely some fear there."

That commitment to the theme is commendable, but did it translate to a good movie? Well, considering the film's reception ... that's a question without a clear answer.

Critics and audiences were divided on Between Worlds

Perhaps the biggest testament to Between Worlds' weirdness is the fact that the movie has proved to be very divisive. According to SyFy, when the movie screened at Fantastic Fest, "[it] had audiences cheering on the film the whole way." In an interview with The Moveable Fest, Pulera said of the movie's premiere at the Cannes Film Festival, "[W]e were sitting with an international audience and they were laughing their asses off and we're like, 'Wow, it transcends cultural borders.' They got it, and not only did they get it, they liked it, so that was really fun."

On the other side of the coin, the film didn't fare as well with some professional critics. Simon Abrams of RogerEbert.com gave the film a scathing review and offered a warning to potential viewers swayed by the film's strangeness, "I know that may entice some readers to watch Between Worlds, but let me assure you: this movie may sound amazing, but you really, really do not want to go there."

Nick Johnston of Vanyaland disagreed with that assessment. While he criticized the film for not fully realizing its ambitions, he said, "Cage's ferocious oddness keeps the movie afloat, as it's his choices...that make Between Worlds more than a simple evocation of Twin Peaks."

The split in reception for Between Worlds can be summed up by the movie's Rotten Tomatoes scores. It has a measly 32% with critics, but an admirable 84% from audiences. If you're still not sure how you'll feel about this odd hidden gem, there's only one way to find out for sure — and luckily for you, it's available on Netflix.