Nicholas McCarthy's The Pact promises an intriguing mash-up of ghost story and serial killer flick, permeated by psychological troubles and murky secrets from the past. It focuses on the appealingly self-reliant Annie (Caity Lotz), beckoned home by her estranged sister Nicole when their abusive mother dies. On arrival it becomes apparent Nicole has gone missing, and before long things start to go bump in the night. As it all gets progressively more alarming (and dangerous) Annie dives into the past to unravel a family mystery and find out what the hell is going on.
"The character histories might be painted with fairly broad strokes, but with a mystery plot full of red herrings, twists, and surprises, this film offers much to any viewer looking to be more than just a quick shock or gross-out. While The Pact doesn't exactly push the envelope, it is a more than solid entry in the genre..."
"...the result is a very perplexing affair that holds little suspense or tension for horror buffs. There's a minimum of bloodletting, so it's reasonable to expect more from the atmosphere that's created, yet the film doesn't really go anywhere, and the narrative has far too many holes that are never explained -- and not in an intriguing, thoughtful fashion."
For my money McCarthy does well on atmosphere as Peter suggests, and the film has a suitably dread-filled aesthetic. Lotz is also a refreshingly courageous lead with a palpably disturbed past, even if there's occasionally a whiff of Australian soap in her performance. But whilst the slow-burn recalls recent ghostly triumphs such as Ti West's tremendous The Innkeepers, The Pact fails to generate sufficient excitement and, though creepy, elicits insufficient fear. Dour is the word that keeps coming back to me.
The Blu-ray disc is unremarkable, though the picture quality is very good with the many dark scenes remaining detailed and clear. Extras are limited to three short featurettes on cast, location and director, plus McCarthy's original short film of The Pact. I don't normally bring menus into the equation, but it's worthy pointing out the irritatingly unskippable intro to the menu on offer here.
The Pact is released on UK DVD and Blu-ray on 1st October 2012 through Entertainment One.
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