Arcadian review: "Nicolas Cage can't save this disappointing thriller"

(Image: © RLJE Movies)

GamesRadar+ Verdict

The post-apocalyptic worldbuilding draws us in, but this creature feature squanders its early promise.

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We all know by now that a Nicolas Cage film has the capacity to be a rollercoaster of ups and downs. Benjamin Brewer’s Arcadian is no exception. It throws us into a world in a state of noisy upheaval, as Cage’s Paul scavenges what he can to survive and runs home to his infant sons. The opening stretch is blissfully free of context as the end of the world unfolds. How and why it happened isn’t important – only the aftermath is. 

Fifteen years on, Paul and sons Joseph (Jaeden Martell) and Thomas (Maxwell Jenkins) spend their days peacefully. Cage gets to give a quiet and sincere performance as a father bonding with two teenage boys (teaching Joseph how to drive is a highlight). At night, however, they barricade themselves inside to hide from feral creatures that stalk any living prey. 

Arcadian spends a lot of time hiding its monsters from us, and what it’s lacking is payoff for that choice. We get glimpses of the furry hands and claws of the wolf-like creatures, and when we finally do see them wreak havoc their design is undeniably striking – but it feels like a mish-mash of monsters that have come before.  

Cage disappointingly disappears for a good chunk of the runtime, but Martell and Jenkins hold the fort until he reemerges in suitably dramatic fashion during Arcadian’s climax. Sadly little else in the finale works so well, with ropey special effects and ludicrous set pieces undercutting the intrigue created at the start. 

Arcadian is released in UK cinemas on June 14 and is in US theaters now. 

For more upcoming movies, check out our guide to all the new horror movies coming in 2024.

Lauren Miles
News Editor, Total Film

I'm the News Editor of Total Film magazine, overseeing the Teasers section of every issue where you can read exclusive previews of the biggest films. I was previously Staff Writer, then Contributing Editor at Film Stories, where I covered everything from blockbuster movies to independent British films - although admittedly big sci-fi and fantasy movies are my favourites! I'm always waiting for a new film by my favourite directors Guillermo del Toro and Tim Burton, and am enthusiastic about all things dark and gothic.