Film Review – The Pact
Annie is a bit aimless and angry. Her mother has just died and her father is a long distant memory. She has just inherited the family home she grew up in until she left home as a teenager. While dealing with her mother’s funeral and arrangements, her bitterness and fear start surfacing concerning her childhood. So begins the new independent horror movie The Pact.
Intensely played by Caity Lotz (you may remember her in her recurring role on Mad Men as Stephanie), Annie hasn’t set foot in her mother’s house since she left many years ago. Her drug-abusing sister is missing and doesn’t attend the funeral. While trying to get her whereabouts, Annie starts hearing strange noises in the house. Lights flicker and go out. A shadowy figure seems to creep around a specific door. Sometimes she thinks she’s dreaming. Other times not. Meanwhile, Annie’s other sister, Nichole (played by Agnes Bruckner), and Annie’s niece follow her home after the funeral. In the middle of the night, Annie finally gets attacked by some supernatural force. She escapes the house with her niece, but her sister goes missing without a trace. So she enlists the help of a local police detective played by Caspar Van Dien (remember right after Starship Troopers how Caspar Van Dien was supposed to become the next big thing…and then he wasn’t?).
Why this haunted house story is taking place and what happened to the missing family members I won’t reveal here. Needless to say, long-buried secrets are revealed. Ably directed by Nicholas McCarthy, The Pact at first plays out like a suburban version of an Evil Dead movie. The camera spends a lot of time stalking Annie throughout the house. Tension is built using noises and long takes. The supernatural is definitely at work. In the final third of the film, the story takes a more earthly horror turn and starts to play out more like the original Halloween. While you can see those influences, overall The Pact is quite an effective horror story by its own right. Unknown parts of the house are discovered. The reasons for why these otherworldly forces do what they do are revealed.
Caity Lotz is particularly good in her role. As has become tradition in a great many horror movies, she is more than just a wussy protagonist who simply screams. When it makes sense to grab a weapon to defend herself, she does so. When it’s time to figure out what the hell is going on, she doesn’t shy away from the challenges. As is often said, courage is about being afraid and overcoming it anyway. In this way, Annie is very courageous.
The Pact isn’t necessarily anything new. But for a low budget horror movie that looks to unsettle its audience, it really works. It is playing this weekend at The Grand Illusion here in Seattle, and should make for good late night scares.
Final Grade: B