For about a half hour Dream Scenario is as good as its title.

Nicolas Cage plays college professor Paul Matthews, a desperate mediocrity, who starts appearing randomly in people’s dreams. While the dreamer goes through some kind of traumatic situation, Cage passes through or just stands and observes.

After some early mystification, Cage begins to grow into his newfound celebrity though obviously, events take a turn for the worse when he stops being a passive figure in their dreams.

And all this is blissfully funny and engagingly offbeat, but you know it can't last. At some point, some sense has to be applied to this dream scenario and a dream is never as interesting once it has been explained.

Ham & High: Cage's character is cancelled after cropping up in people's nightmaresCage's character is cancelled after cropping up in people's nightmares (Image: A24)

Most people would agree that casting Cage as a recurring nightmare is a tad harsh, but you can see where they're coming from. For some forty years, he has been a blasted, wasted figure wandering the Hollywood terrain, a fool to himself and a clown to everyone else, a spectre we couldn't shake, and wouldn’t want to.

Early in the year, the aggressive global shunning of his Dracula turn in Renfield made it abundantly, hurtfully clear that he wouldn't be troubling the A-list again. Which is their loss. The world of low budget action thriller and cult oddities is one he can traverse as well as anyone and he’s working near the peak of his powers here.

The problem with Dream Scenario is that at some point it has to reveal where it is going, and Norwegian writer/director Borgli's destination is an examination of cancel culture, which has to count as a disappointment.Ham & High: Nicolas Cage in Dream ScenarioNicolas Cage in Dream Scenario (Image: A24)

The inevitable meta moment materialises when the book of Matthews’ life, "Dream Scenario," is retitled "I'm your Nightmare." Is he though? Is he a nightmare? Or a victim? After Matthews becomes a malevolent figure in everybody's dreams, this white middle-aged male academic finds himself ostracised by his students, his workplace and society.

He justifiably proclaims his innocence; he hasn’t done anything. The film though shows just what a traumatic experience it would be to have Nicolas Cage menace you in your dreams. It keeps its counsel and largely refrains from making any judgements. But while its refusal to pick sides is artistically valid and entirely understandable, it also strikes me as a bit gutless.

UK age rating: 15. Directed by Kristoffer Borgli. Starring Nicolas Cage, Julianne Nicholson, Michael Cera, Dylan Baker, Dylan Gelula and Tim Meadows. 100 mins. for reviews of Studiocanal's Blu-ray releases of Jim Jarmusch's Ghost Dog and Caro & Jeunet's debut Delicatessen.