Arcadian Review

In a post-apocalyptic America, Paul (Nicolas Cage) and his sons live a peaceful life on their farm. Each night, however, mysterious creatures emerge to tear apart everything the family has built. 

by Barry Levitt |
Published on
Original Title:


When we first see Paul (Nicolas Cage) in Ben Brewer’s Arcadian, he’s roaming rubble-filled streets while alarms blare. We don’t understand what’s happening, but it’s clear things have gone horribly wrong. Fifteen years later, we see Paul and his twin sons living peacefully, but there’s a stifling quiet that permeates the air. Something isn’t right.


Michael Nilon’s script immerses you in its world and avoids the typical post-apocalyptic cliché of expository newsreels explaining whatever outbreak turned the world on its head. This lack of explanation is a welcome touch — after all, if the world suddenly plunged into chaos and technology was no more, how would you ever figure out exactly what happened?

The creatures prove more than creepy.

Cage continues his current hot streak, turning in a great performance as a father trying to keep a stable home under impossible circumstances, but this is really a film about his two sons, Thomas and Joseph. Both Maxwell Jenkins and Jaeden Martell impress as twins with opposing ideologies, and their believable dynamic makes a strong emotional lynchpin.

The first half of Arcadian establishes the daily routine of Paul and his boys. The distinct divide between day and night is fascinating: peaceful days of scavenging and preparing supplies are contrasted with the harsh bleakness of nighttime, when Paul and his family board up doors and windows as creatures try to break into their farmhouse.

Suspense builds slowly and steadily, and the sparse score by Kristin Kontrol and Josh Martin fades away when the scares come. And come they do, with the creatures in Arcadian proving more than creepy and unpredictable enough to keep the fear running through your veins for a good portion of the film.

The final act devolves into a barrage of violence that feels frustratingly predictable, though, leaving behind much of what made Arcadian so effective — the eerie silence deflated by loud, chaotic fury. But despite abandoning the scares behind for its action-packed finale, Arcadian is still a tightly wound horror, built on a trio of strong performances.

Though things go off the rails in the third act, Arcadian’s intriguing premise and inspired monster design pack plenty of scares into this post-apocalyptic fable.
Just so you know, whilst we may receive a commission or other compensation from the links on this website, we never allow this to influence product selections - read why you should trust us