Arcadian (2024)

Director: Benjamin Brewer

Running Time: 92 Minutes

Certification: 15

Starring: Nicolas Cage, Jaeden Martell, Maxwell Jenkins, Sadie Soverall, Samantha Coughlan, Joe Dixon

Returning to the director's chair after his last feature, 2016 crime-thriller The Trust, Benjamin Brewer's follow-up may be without co-director Alex Brewer, yet it retains the previous film's star, Nicolas Cage. The result is Arcadian, a tale which opens on a world plunged into an apocalyptic event as Paul (Cage) scavenges for supplies in a storehouse. Escaping through back alleys while sirens blare and explosions occur in the distance, he returns to a secluded spot to care for his infant sons. While the world descends into a nightmare, he just wants to look after his two boys.

Fifteen-years-later, normal life has been decimated. Paul lives on a remote farmhouse with his sons, Joseph (Jaeden Martell) and Thomas (Maxwell Jenkins), experiencing tranquility during the day as they fortify their home. It is a different story at night, as the family tries surviving against mysterious creatures violently attacking their home. When Thomas does not return home before sundown, Paul leaves the safety of their farm to find him, forcing the family to execute a plan for survival.

For anybody going into this film expecting a Cage-centric feature, particularly in the role of a man who has witnessed the crumbling of the world he grew up in, temper your expectations. An understated performance is effectively delivered to depict Paul, a man hopeful that the next generation will persevere from the ashes and avoid the mistakes his generation made. It is a supporting role for the on-screen sons, both of whom are brought alive by terrific young performers.

Thomas enjoys spending time at their neighbour's farm, particularly as he has feelings for their daughter, Charlotte (Sadie Soverall). Joseph prefers to spend his days using his intellect to improve their situation beyond surviving, including an interest in studying the creatures. While the brotherly scenes can feel strained to hit the expected conflicting beats, the familial relationships feel real between the members. The focus upon the sons makes this feel like the adaptation of a Young Adult novel, although one where the elements have been done better elsewhere.

The strongest addition to this world are the creatures that dwell at night, with a singular purpose to destroy. These effective antagonists are set apart by a terrific grotesqueness, aided by unsettling chattering while being part of some unsettling sequences. The standout moment involves an arm reaching into a room, for an image that will stay in ones memory. It all makes for a confined look at post-apocalyptic life which may not be original, yet Arcadian does a solid job.

Arcadian is available now in UK cinemas