Fantastic Fest: Between Worlds creator Maria Pulera on harnessing the power of Nicolas Cage

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Sep 26, 2018

Tuesday night's midnight screening at Fantastic Fest in Austin, Texas, was an encore run of the new Nic Cage supernatural love triangle Between WorldsThough the film had its world premiere earlier in the week, this is the kind of film that feels custom-made for a midnight viewing.

While Cage is currently racking up accolades for his turn in the blood-splattered Mandy, Between Worlds proves to be a boundary-pushing performance — even when compared to the roster of bizarre roles he's taken on over the past several years.

After the screening, which had audiences cheering on the film the whole way, writer, producer, and director Maria Pulera was on hand to share the details about why she wanted to dial into Cage's incomparable style.

"Partial insanity. I think that's the answer," Pulera told the crowd, which included SYFY WIRE.

In the film, Cage plays Joe, a lonely, disparate trucker from down south who's still reeling from the loss of his wife and child in a fire. While Cage toys with a Southern drawl, Pulera said that it was Cage's innate presence on screen that helped to inform his performance.

"He's shot a lot of movies down in New Orleans and in Mobile," Pulera explained. "So he has this kind of southern-ness to him, this southern gentleman demeanor in general. Really, his character took on those attributes naturally."

Initially, Between Worlds was more of a straightforward supernatural thriller, but producer David Hillary, who was also on hand, said that the project evolved as Cage got more involved.

"Maria has a very unique vision, she likes to break the wall," Hillary told the crowd, explaining that it was Pulera's collaboration with Cage that led to a much more surreal drama in the vein of David Lynch.

"It's just being true to the material," said Pulera. "When you have material that takes you into a certain place, we followed [it], and this is where we ended."

This instinct to follow the material allows for several bizarre moments in the film, one of which is an unscripted sex scene that features Cage's character, Joe, reading a book of poems titled Memories, written by none other than Nicolas Cage.

"He has a unique thing of throwing curveballs," said Hillary, who worked with Cage previously on Paul Schrader's 2016 feature Dog Eat Dog. "Most directors resist it. Maria works with it."

"I LOVE it," added Pulera. "We have a lot of sex scenes in the film, and to keep the tone consistent, it really works well. It's wacky, it's insane. We love it. I love everything he does."

"There's been kind of a fatigue of Nic with a gun, a variation on a variation of that," said Hillary. "And this is kind of just raw, independent cinema, just telling a story that has energy and life and [gives] a lot of room for performances. It's definitely something we feel will find its audience," before adding, "It's not for everyone."

Between Worlds is currently waiting on a theatrical/VOD release date in the U.S. In the meantime, be sure to check out all of SYFY WIRE's coverage of Fantastic Fest.

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